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Ebon Hand Cultist
(3/11/04 1:38 pm)
Varied and Sundry Guards ...
So the Human and Elven guardsmen in the CRM are already starting to wear a little thin for me.

I immediately dropped their CR to .5, good equipment or not, they're not much of a challenge.

The party front-line fighters have AC 18 and 20, making them reasonably hard for the Guards to hit (but not impossible). They do okay damage. That's alright.

But they wear Chainmail and have 10 or less HP. My Barbarians have +11 and +9 to-hit, respectively, and do AT LEAST 10 points of damage on a successful strike .. and both of them have cleave. That means they're more likely than not to hit when they swing, and automatically kill when they connect. Usually per-swing, the Bbns can take out two guards.

If more than three guards are grouped together, they usually take a Fireball on the nose from Jondar, the wizard.

Even if they're not grouped together, only so many of them can be at the front ranks at a time, and they get mowed down. Any of them in the back can wait their turn for death, or attempt to fire arrows ... having no archery feats, they can't hit the broad side of a barn, much less any of the PCs.

What this ammounts to is more or less free XP (4-8 CR .5 creatures) and free cash (4-8 MW Bastard Swords). The Guards don't offer even the smallest challenge, anymore. All of the guards are usually dead by round 2.

I know they're sort of there for the entertainment of being all Conan and slicing down hordes of screaming extras, but it's getting sort of depressing. I just have the guards flee in terror upon a DC 5 Int check (to recognize the PCs from the descriptions filtering around the CRM) or surrender, unless I have an interesting tactic for them to try, but with their pitiful HP, nothing really "works".

Not that I'm expecting a TPK with 8 CR .5 guards, but I'd like the PCs to do something other than laugh as the guards' ineffectual blows are brushed aside and their crumpled bodies are looted.

To that end I think I'm going to introduce a few Human Archers to the mix, from time to time ... instead of EWP and Weapon Focus I'm going to give them more Dex, a chain shirt, and MW Mighty Composite Longbow (+1 Str). The longbows are worth more than the MW BSwords but I'm only going to have 2 or so per combat, so it won't be noticable (Well, it will, as a change of pace from "ho hum, another MW Bastard Sword"). With a new Ability outlay I can get them with +6 to hit (within 30 feet, +5 farther out) and 1d8+2 (1d8+1) damage. This, at least, gives the guards a little artillery and might put the fear into Jondar that he CAN be hit with Mage Armor sitting in the back row with cover from the Bbns.

I'm thinking of maybe a few "Shock Troops" ... Use the two feats for Tower Sheild Prof and Phalanx Fighting (from Complete Warrior). Phalanx Fighting gives a flat +1 AC when using a sheild and a light weapon. If you form a Sheild Wall with a Phalanx fighter next to you, each gets +2 AC MORE and +1 on Ref saves.

With Chain and Tower Sheilds the guards would have AC 18 (20 if I reassign ability scores and a Dex 14). With Phalanx Fighting they'd have 19, with a friend 21 (or 22). {EDIT: I was looking, Chainmail, Dex 14, and Tower Sheild gives the Guards a 21 AC, with Phalanx Fighting 22 AC, with other Phalanx Fighters, 24 AC. Hrmmmmm} The up in their AC might give them a little more life ... at least it might freak the players out a little to have the guards lock sheilds and march forward, short-swords at the ready. Their damage would go down, but they rarely connect in the first place ... this way they might take up some room and let more powerful people in the back use them for meat a little longer.

The CR doesn't change, I'm just making the guards better in one area or another to make them more interesting. This seem unfair to any of you? Any other interesting ideas for different kinds of guards to add some variety to the CRM?


Edited by: fjeTheNarrator at: 3/11/04 2:10 pm
(3/11/04 2:23 pm)
Put them to use!
I think the guards can serve some good uses though. They help alert the more powerful creatures that trouble is near (giving that much needed buff time). They help draw attacks off of the more powerful bad guys fighting with the guards. They make mobility in an area a little more difficult, because players are usually afraid of the AoO. And as you pointed out they drain spells that the wizard/cleric might otherwise use on more dangerous encounters. And after the party is about eighth level or so, they won’t even be getting XP from the 1st level warriors.

Night Beast
(3/11/04 2:28 pm)
Re: Varied and Sundry Guards ...
Sounds good to me, actually. I did something similar by making some of them archers and giving others longswords. In the end, I don't really remember much of the mooks, so it was really a moot point. Be careful not to waste too much time on this because chances are that your efforts will go largely unnoticed by the players (in ratio to time spent).

Another suggestion, though, would be to incorporate a couple of traps into the mook's defenses or give them some poison darts to throw prior to the fight, or as an ambush. High-DC Strength-damaging poison would be a nice twist against the barbarians.

Cordo Crowfoot
(3/11/04 4:14 pm)
Re: Varied and Sundry Guards ...
Heh now that we are in the Outer Fane those Ogre guards are serving exactly the same role. Easy to take down, and a source of lots of cash for their equipment. At CR 3 though my 11th levellers aren't getting any xp at all for them.

(3/11/04 7:19 pm)
Re: Varied and Sundry Guards ...
Only one guard survived long enough to use his potion IMC. Lucky Eddy Red Shirt. He survived two hits from a 10th level Rogue, and a bull rushing dire bear. He has recently become the Lt. Follower for one of my PCs who took Leadership.

Anyway, here is something nasty to do after the PCs have taken down 2 or 3 temples. Replace the Cure Light Wounds potions of the guards with an ingested poison. Don't tell the guards, most likely they won't be alive long enough to use the potions anyway.

(3/11/04 9:15 pm)
Re: Varied and Sundry Guards ...
Another thing you could do if you're sick of handing the PCs essentially "free loot", you could just say that nobody wants to buy all of their MW weapons anymore. (That's assuming they're selling their equipment at Rastor/Hommlet)

I mean really, how many extra weapons does a village needs?

This rationale can work almost as well in the cities too. You could tax the PCs coming into Verbobonc on the price of their loot, and they'd have to compete with the merchants in the city as well.

It makes good economic sense. Sure, a merchant may be willing to buy a nice MW weapon, but why would he buy 8-10 of them at the same price?


(3/11/04 10:06 pm)
The mooks...
I refuse to refer to the mooks as guards.

Anyways, they do provide much needed cannon fodder, an early warning system, a mechanical pat on the back and morale boost for the PC who clobbers several in one round and a source of nigh-unto never drank potions of CLW. (How often do these guys survive more than one hit.)

I don't recommend boosting them or lowering their CR or treasure. These guys are meant to be gimmes on the way to the Outer Fane. Feel free to alter their feats though...a combination of Reckless Charge and Mighty Charge for their possible one-shot before they die is my next effort.

Also, Recitation helps them too. :evil

(3/12/04 6:38 am)
Re: The mooks...

I have DMGenie, so building and using new mooks isn't really going to unduly tire me.

I've built some "Shock Troop" mooks, with the locked-sheild 24 AC ... tee hee. They've got 1 less AtkBonus and alot less damage, but they're front line meat.

Right behind them will be coming some fellows with EXP: Greatspear and WF: Greatspear ... 1d10 with 10' reach ... They have lower AC (no sheild) but will be stab stab stabbin' over the other guys' shoulders.

Then from various hidden places will be bowmen.

This SHOULD make an encounter with the guards actually something worth the XP they get.

Maybe Reckless and Powerful-Charge guys will be next. Sort of some mini-Barbarian kamikazis ... "AAAAAAAAAAHHHH!! *whack*" "Ow. *splatt* Dude. He hit me."

It's sort of fun to see exactly what you can do with 2 feats and precious little else. Hrmmm ... Combat Reflexes and Imp. Trip ... two feat chain. Stick them with Guisarmes behind the Shock Troops.

Mwa hahahahaha ... I'm drunk with the power of mooks!


Mr Kaze
(3/12/04 4:04 pm)
Re: The mooks...
One of the things that I've found useful is to replace the bastard swords and shields with falchions + Weapon Focus. The increased crit threat and attack modifiers work wonders (compared to the normal pace) since they're only going to get in 1-2 swings anyway.

Ghoul Worm
(3/12/04 7:48 pm)
Re: The mooks...
All I did was give the majority of them mw longswords and weapon focus (longsword): a bastard sword is an "exotic" weapon after all, so I wouldn't have thought that it should be a prerequisite for Every guard...

I'd be wary about making all the guards different, though, just to give the PCs a change of pace. Guards in similar positions should probably have similar abilities, unless you can come up with some reasonable in-game reasons as to why this lot of guards chose to take feats abc while this other lot chose feats xyz.

This is the problem I would have with "replacing" the guards' potions with vials of poison: it makes no sense for their masters to give them poison before hand, and issuing them a "replacement" potion implies that their existing potions have an expiry date of some sort. It mgiht work with recent hires unfamiliar with magic, but the longer serving guards would get pretty suspicious pretty quickly. On the other hand, being issued an extra potion because there are intruders loose in the CRM sounds like a sensible thing to do; their masters would have to be think about how they'd get those potions back if the intruders are dealt with elsewhere, though...

GM Nemo
(3/13/04 6:52 pm)
Re: The mooks...
If you decide to give the occasional guard who's especially prepared a dose of decent DC strength-damaging poison, don't be silly and blow it on the barbarians. Take a cheap shot on the wizard, who's more likely to get hit, more likely to fail the save, and more likely to be incapacitated by strength damage...

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