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Ebon Hand Cultist
(2/22/04 3:14 am)
I surrender! (Dealing)

So I'm trying to run intelligent combat as much as possible ... I mean, nobody in their right mind fights to the death against obviously impossible odds.

Unless they're insane cultists ...

Sometimes not even then.

My group, as I've posted, is pretty methodical and careful and work very well together (very synergistic). For some reason their combat style tends to leave one or two "survivors" as the combat is closing down ... individuals who are in good position to protect themselves, but obviously can't do any damage to the group itself.

To illustrate:

They captured Chatrilon after assasinating everybody in his group in less than 3 rounds and leaving him invisible, entangled, yet entirely unscathed. So he surrendered when they dropped Faire Fire on his head.

They get the jump on a group of Trog guards ... in the surprise round they bring them all down to 2-3 hp with a spell and slaughter three of them. The fourth acts next and immediately drops his club ...

Right after that (short) battle (while the group is arguing over what to do with a half-dead trog) the Swordmaster, Gresta, Mikolak and her EE come running around the corner ...

After a REALLY long fight (I redesigned The Swordmaster as Half-Earth Elemental Trog Ftr 3 ... same CR ... he he he.) they manage to FINALLY bring down the Swordmaster ... same round they toss down another Faerie Fire and reveal Greshta who breaks into a run. Next action is the Bbn who gets another crit on a fleeing person for sick damage (he pegged Festrath that way too) and kills Greshta in mid-stride.

The EE is down to 4 hp and earth glides under the floor (I love that. They're scared to death of Earth Elementals, now.) Mikolak is at almost full HP, but is down to 2 spells and is flanked by a Bbn and a Rogue. Soften Earth and Stone (useless) and Shape Stone ... hrm ... I look up the entry for Shape Stone ... and Mikolak makes a thin column with her clay and touches the stone at her feet ... and shoots up on a thin pillar, using her Ring of Climbing to not fall off.

She yells out in Terran for the EE to go alert the temple and decides to buy herself some time ... by surrendering.

Unfortunately they bag her up and run out of the temple before my countdown is over for the EE to go warn the others and gather some folks to come deal with the intruders. They grab their sledge with the loot on it from the temple (and the Sword of Earth) and frog-march Mikolak back to Verbobonc with them.

Three weeks later, they're back in the Lortmil Mts ... (They took some down-time to question Mikolak and arrange for her incarceration as well as sell the BAZILLION masterwork Bastard Swords they had ... which took some time. Then they had two of their weapons enchanted with elemental powers.)

While they're hacking out what they want to buy in V-town I idly decide that the cult is going to put some replacements in that empty gate house ... 2 gnolls, 3 human Warriors, and a 2nd lvl Fighter riding a Dire Wolf. I have DMGenie, so it takes me NO time to design the fighter. He's a nice tac-fighter with Combat Reflexes, Imp. Trip, and Imp. Disarm weilding a flail.

They ride back in and cautiously approach the north gate ... sending in the Rogue invisible to see what the cult has put in there to defend. He sees a couple archers looking out the windows, then tries to pick the lock ... which I let him do. He opens the door ... and the guards run like rabbits.

Well, the group figures they've got it made ... I was hoping they'd be cocky. I had the guards flee the main room because of that fire-ball tossing wizard. But the group buffs to the gills coming up the switchback and creep through the door.

The whole party totally blows their spot checks ... the invis rog sneaks across the main hall and gets pounced by a Dire Wolf (scent). The wizard drops a Haste (how I HATE haste) and the Bbn/Clr comes to rescue the Rog. Nobody notices the mooks in the wings ... who come pouring out to attack the Wizard. (Hey, they know him and his fireballs.) Unfortunately the Wizard has Sheild and Mage Armor on and is now the character with the highest AC (as opposed to the lowest) ... he doesn't take much damage.

The rest of the group uses their extra attacks to good effect ... on the Dire Wolf (the bigger threat, right?) ... everybody is enjoying themselves slaughtering mooks, figuring this for an easy combat.

The Ftr 2 Guard makes his Ride check as the Wolf goes down under him. On his action he whips the legs out from under the Bbn/Clr and bashes him in the face. Next round the Bbn/Clr tries to stand, provokes an AoO and down he goes again. (They'd used this on NPCs with summoned Dire Wolves ... turnabout and all.)

Now, the biggest guy in the group is on his butt ... but nobody thinks this Fighter is worth a spell or an arrow.

The Rogue provokes and goes down too ... ("Hey! He already used his AoO ... oh ... Combat Reflexes ... crap.") Next action and Ftr-guy is up again, resetting his reflexes. Uses his action to Disarm the Rogue ... ("How'd he do that?! Oh ... Improved Disarm ... crap.") The Rogue and Barbarian both try to stand up ... silly PCs ... they both go down AGAIN, both get hit for decent damage.

Now it's the 4th round and here's this random mook and he's beating the SNOT out of the two biggest damage-dealers in the group. The rest of them are laughing and cleaning up the rest of the mooks, contemplating using a spell to take the guy out. But no, Rogue and Barbarian want a piece.

Thwack thwack thwack ... they're crawling away getting swatted in the butt with a flail while their weapons spin away.

Then the Guardsman grounds his flail ... and offers the PCs quarter. :hat

The PCs quibble with him a bit on that mark, and ask why he serves the Temple. He replies that they paid well in gold and gear.

The PCs offer him double if he'll join them. Ha!

So The Guardsman accepts ... On the fly I figured he was true neutral (like most of the party) and was more than willing to change sides. More money and he keeps his skin intact.

NOW ... that my tale is done, and all. I have a few problems:

My ever-problematic player (playing the Wizard) is too OOC-Practical for his own good. His character is CN and he figures that's a good excuse to save himself as much time and trouble as possible. He's already gotten himself cursed playing around with Tharizdun's toys ... now every time somebody surrenders he tries to pass me a note with varying degrees of: "When nobody is looking, I smoke the prisoner with Scorching Ray." ... Which everybody in the group stops him from doing. Out of the rest of the party we have CN, CN, N, and NG ... but they're interested in maintaining respectability and refuse to stoop to the level of slaughtering prisoners. (Good job, gang.) I've put my foot down and said I'll have no evil PCs in my campaigns ... and that if people commit blatantly evil acts I'll adjust their alignment accordingly. So I told the player he was more than welcome to do as he wanted. (This DM/Player showdown occurred after Mikolak surrendered.) I told him that killing a defenseless prisoner was certainly an evil act and he was welcome to do it ... in fact his PC heard voices TELLING him to assasinate the prisoners. But if he gave in to the voice of Tharizdun his PC was mine and he was free to build another character, perhaps one that wasn't evil. (His argument was that "Jondar is a self-serving ass and knows purely evil creatures such as these will stab him in the back the first chance they get".) We got to the point that he said fine, he'd take the action and handed his sheet across the table to me ...

Jondar's player then recanted and said he liked the depth and RPing involved with playing such a conflicted and cursed PC and that this time, at least, Jondar would fight off the temptation of evil. |I

The guy is problematic. I know the majority of people will suggest I drop him (this is the second sticking point we've had). That's not really an option, since it would be over-reacting in everybody's eyes, including mine. The guy himself is pretty reasonable, he just gets carried away trying to "win", I think. I guess my big question is, is this sort of IC-style of handling things appropriate? We discuss these things after game and he's always willing to work with me on them ... creating some interesting character aspects, if nothing else. At the same time I wonder if I shouldn't just take the PC next time crap like this happens ... Jondar is quickly becoming the most troubled mage in the world. So far he's found two different annoying habits I've had to curtail IC.

At the same time, he has a bit of a point ... what SHOULD they do with all of these prisoners? Should I stop having NPCs surrender when things are totally against them? They're going to have a whole wing for Evil Tharizdun Cultists at the local brig in Verbobonc at this rate ... really, I just ruled that they could convince the local authorities using documents they've recovered and some Zone Of Truth questioning that these people should be put in the clink.

I dunno... I want to reward the group for good RPing ... questioning the prisoners for information, interacting, not killing everything that moves. At the same time, when what's going on becomes apparent, if the authorities in V-Town are so willing to work with the PCs why wouldn't they ride in and crush the cult themselves?

I think Rerrid would probably store some prisoners in Rastor, but the group avoids the town like the plague, figuring it's full of innocent people who have befriended the cult. They know nothing about the Tanbrosh or what Tal Chammish is doing there and try to sneak through town at night when they leave the mountains.

I may have a night-time encounter with Tal and some addicted townspeople ... a non-combat attempt by the cult to rid themselves of the PC problem.

I don't want to use "surrender" too much, of course ... but when things are totally hopeless, I don't see why any sane person would continue fighting for the 2 rounds it takes for them to be slaughtered. If the group didn't leave one person per heavy combat totally untouched until the last it wouldn't be such a big deal.

Another problem I have is their new hireling. :( It was 3am during that last combat, and I was pretty surprised when they offered to hire him. By making him neutral I was hoping they'd just let him go instead of going BACK to Verbobonc to try and stick him in jail ...

I'm contemplating making him a "deeper" NPC ... build up some backstory, make him interesting. One person has already expressed some passing interesting "coming back" as that NPC should his character die. For an NPC I threw together in 3 minutes, though, the guy is a BEAST ... tripping is totally overpowered in 3.5 with the AoOs and whatnot. We've houseruled some crawling and standing rules just to keep Dire Wolves and guys like this from destroying things. I think the group didn't realize WHY I'd made those rules until I had two 6th level PCs crawling around on their hands and knees looking for their weapons with a 2nd level fighter. Thing is ... I dunno if I want to deal with this monster I've created as a PC or even as an NPC hireling on the PCs' side ... yeesh.


Tolling Bell Cultist
(2/22/04 5:51 am)
Re: I surrender! (Dealing)
How can I get the DMGenie files for RttToEE? :p

Ebon Hand Cultist
(2/22/04 10:27 am)
Re: DMGenie

Yea, this is the question I asked.

I know of one person on the DMGenie boards that inputted the entire campaign.

Unfortunately he's afraid that Monte is going to sue him if he posts it somewhere other users could get to and he figures people will download it and use it to run the campaign without the books ... seeing as he put the whole book in.

Which ... out of the 20 people that use DMGenie and are interested in running RttToEE I can't see as there would be anybody without the book willing to steal the campaign and bypass any precautions he placed (such as password protecting the file/download with data from the physical book) by going to a used book store and looking through the book or whatever ... but hey, it's not my ass, I suppose.

Currently I'm entering just monsters/NPCs/items using the conversion data here (and just inputting straight for things like mooks and whatnot). I designed a new "race" for the 1st Level Warriors that abound so you can just click for 1,2,3,4,5 etc etc Warriors who come equipped with CLW and whatnot.

I've so far inputted 3 of the Half-Elemental Templates along with The Sword Of Earth and Grues. I'm planning on entering some additional Elemental spells, the other Half-Elemental template and a few other things when I get the chance.

I'm changing around alot of encounters ... basically because I have the power to with DMGenie. I can click two buttons and slap Half Elemental on something ... I can enter Vranthis (a standard dragon) with a click ... or remove him with a click and enter a Belker and two Air Elementals and see that it's all the same CR ... I can pull silly things like Destrachan and Digesters and enter more interesting elemental beasties ... or gank those monsters entirely and add units to the temples ... keeping the same amount of XP, but bumping the power of some encounters.

BUT that means my DMGenie Campaign File isn't "Core" ... so would be of even less use to other DMs ... who would click on CRM 222 and find that the Swordmaster is now a Half Elemental, etc etc.

When I get SOMETHING fully complete I'm going to post it up to Zans site. Half-Elemental Templates, etc. Perhaps even a group of finished NPCs from the mines. Just something to give back to the community ... for me, at least, it's important to share files like that. Makes DMGenie more viable a product, and I like DMGenie so much I REALLY want Janik to stay in business programming it.

(Maybe somebody will some day program D20 Modern into it and make my other game as easy to run. Oi.)


Tolling Bell Cultist
(2/22/04 10:30 am)
Re: I surrender! (Dealing)
Well, as for the cult's wing in the clink, just how many prisoners are there? And is the cult aware of them? If they are, it's got to start looking like a jail break would be in their best interests. Of course, if they DID break the cultists out of jail, they'd have to let EVERYONE go, so it wasn't obvious who was behind it. That could make for quite a few interesting developments next time the party returns to Verbobonc.

As for the fighter NPC, I don't think you have as much choice in this as you think. Even if you did write him out of the story (does the party KNOW he's true neutral? You could make him chaotic neutral... take the cash they offer, and then skip town first chance he gets), the party knows how powerful trip and disarm can be now, so if they can't play the NPC, they'll likely just create a similar PC next time.

You may want to look into counter tactics for trip (disarm is easy... have some of the NPCs carry an extra weapon <not magical or masterwork, so it has little effect on total treasure>).


Ebon Hand Cultist
(2/22/04 11:51 am)
Re: I surrender! (Dealing)

Well, currently they only have Mikolak and Chatrilon in the brig back in Verbobonc ... I've been thinking about how they might get free, but I'm utilizing a great deal of Verbobonc information to make the town seem "real" and limit it from being a waystation for buying and selling unlimited numbers of weapons and items.

That also limits me on what the cult can do. Quite a few magical protections around town. Perhaps a Doppleganger, however ...

That's a 5th level Cleric and a 6th level Assasin sitting in the brig, though. If they keep going at that rate, they may end up with a bunch of heavy-hitters in there and then it may become problematic.

Yea ... I guess it's my fault I introduced Disarm ... luckily it's not something all that utilitarian against unarmed beasts. I try to use every tactic at hand, however ... play my enemies intelligently. I'm trying to deal intelligently with a group of people who can use Haste, toss down fireballs, throw around Scorching Ray ... enemies that just run in and attack will get slaughtered. Not much of a challenge.

Contemplating bringing in Mageslayer from Miniatures Handbook ... 1-2 1st or 2nd level fighters that keep a caster from casting on the defensive would be an interesting threat to the wizard. Already he's finding it more and more needful to cast things like Invisibility ... I don't let him get away with blowing everybody up from the back ranks with impunity. He's usually running away from Spiritual Weapon and the like.


Deathmantle Cultist
(2/22/04 3:55 pm)
to be honest.. your party are RPG this game superbly. Do not discourage them to play well. Never know that they may have Hedrack as a prisoner. That will be an interesting RPG!

Beside, their reputation of keeping prisoners will be more interesting later as Mooks will be more willing to surrender in larger numbers aka Iraqi during Gulf War

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