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GM Nemo
Staj
(3/12/04 3:50 pm)
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Will Chat kill the whole party?
My PCs are in the process of withdrawing from a very briefly raided Moathouse, since their primary goal on this trip was to locate Spugnoir, and they have done so. As mentioned in my campaign log (not updated for these events, as I'm running play-by-post and things haven't advanced to the point where a new summary would add much) Chatrilon's attention has fallen on the group, and after their sudden departure from Hommlet, he decided to head to the moathouse once none of them returned to the Wench after nightfall. So as they are travelling down the road with lights out, Chatrilon, who's walking only with moonlight to guide him as a precaution against detection, easily spots them without being spotted and quietly infiltrates and observes the PCs under an invisbility from his wand.

At this point, Oresius, the rogue, begins questioning Spugnoir about any 'strange goings on,' likely spurred by the letters from his sister mentioning her nameless dread and fear of something bad happening. Spugnoir, beat up and still in a foul mood for the most part, snaps back "You mean besides cultists allied with gnolls poking around at the moathouse?"

This, of course, sets Chat off. His main interaction to date has been with Sorion, who he knows to be an accomplished elven tracker and archer, neither of which is fun to deal with in the event that he has to hit-and-run the party a bit, so he makes Sorion his first target.

At this point, I should declare that the party is almost entirely out of healing (Azman has used even his last orisons on Spugnoir) and is travelling wounded. Sorion, ranger though he appears to be, is in fact a very soft, 15hp 3rd level ranger/sorcerer. With 5 points of damage already riding him and with a 20-point backstab/death attack, the fortitude save wasn't even relevant. He's dead, dead, dead.

Beating everyone in the party except Oresius (who blows a bluff in the hopes of setting up a sneak attack of his own) and Spugnoir (who fires his last magic missile), he lays a near-incapacitating sneak attack onto the party's sole remaining HP resevoir, Namgo.

Namgo also puts a hurting on him and the party is starting to surround him, and so Chat's reasonable option seems to be to blow a charge from the wand and retreat to drink a potion and come back to finish the halforc and the rest of the group.

My concern is that I seriously think that he can do it. He still has a 5' square that he can move into without being threatened, and he's as good as gone once he's used his wand. With no more healing for the party, I really think that Chatrilon is going to kill the party...

D'oh.

Caedrel
Ghoul Worm
(3/12/04 7:39 pm)
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ezSupporter
Re: Will Chat kill the whole party?
But does Chat know that the party is without healing? Sure, the ranger has been walking around wounded, but maybe that's because they weren't expecting an attack. If they've put a world of hurt onto Chat himself, he may decide to not risk it in the same night. He would certainly be cautious at least. If the party take the hint that Chat could be coming back and get out of there as quick as they can, I don't think Chat would chase them particularly hard. He may try to get to Hommlet ahead of them and collect his stuff, but his cover could be blown and he'd probably try to make a run for it - giving Maridosen warning, or linking up with "Jaroo" perhaps. If he knows about the mill, he may retreat there.

JRedGiant
Staj
(3/13/04 12:40 am)
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Agree
I agree with Caedral's take on Chat's motivation. He's outnumbered, potentially outgunned and has managed to get a kill in. Assassins don't survive to become retired assassins by pressing their luck. I think he hotfoots it for allies - either the mill or possibly the moathouse.

Besides, from a narrative standpoint, a TPK is a bad way to begin a campaign. Assuming the Ultreshimon fight was as tough as it can be...tack on a player death during what should have been a leisurely stroll back to town and RP session as far as they know...you're facing poor player morale.

I suggest having Chat head for town quickly. He should have the advantage of speed assuming the PC's have to carry their dead. Then, he should report in and beat it out of town. Somewhere later in the CRM, when the characters meet and slaughter him, it will be very sweet for them.

msherman
Briar Beast
(3/13/04 5:15 am)
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Be very careful with Chat
<aol!>

Chat is, IMO, one of the weakest parts of this module. An assassin two levels higher than the recommended EL for that part of the campaign is _very_ dangerous for player morale. It cost me two players (not characters, players).

If I had the chance to start over, I'd introduce Chat as a Rog4 in hommlet, in the same role (spying on the party, providing info to the cult, and eventually double crossing them). I'd have him escape after double crossing the party, if at all possible, and level him to Rog5. He'd lay low for a bit, and encounter the party again later on, say when they're just about ready to leave Hommlet -- say, covering the rear guard of the cultists' last stand, or sniping at the party on their way out of Nulb. The extra die of SA from Rog5 makes this second encounter more dangerous than the last, but still not a campaign-buster. Then, if Chat escapes alive from this second fight, level him again, to Rog5/Asn1. Wait until the party hits level 6, and have him follow them to Rastor, reporting to the cult on their activities there. Only then, once the party proves to be a real threat by either taking out Tal Chammish or executing a reasonably successful attack on one of the CRM gates, would I have him do a real assassination attempt.

Don't play him with perfect knowledge. In fact, play him with very imperfect knowedge, and a healthy dose of cowardice, if you're putting him in as a 6th level assassin against a 4th level party.

Cordo Crowfoot
(3/13/04 5:48 am)
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Re: Be very careful with Chat
Chat was great in my campaign. Considering that by the DMG character parties of four are supposed to be able to handle 10% of their encounters at EL+4 it shouldn't be a problem.

The NPC description says he can't help but come off a bit sinister when trying to join the party. Don't forget that part.

msherman
Briar Beast
(3/13/04 6:59 am)
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Re: Be very careful with Chat
IMO, that guideline breaks down with single enemies. A large group at EL+4 can be a very tough, challenging fight, but you're not going to get an instant kill with a single hit. When you go with a single enemy whose CR is higher than the party's average level, you start getting into dangerous territory with special abilities that the party simply cannot counter.

My current rtttoee campaign was my first time in the DMs chair for d20, so I didn't really have much feel for the EL system at the start of the campaign. If I knew then what I know now about how ELs really work, I wouldn't have played Chat as written in the module. I did play the "sinister" bit, by the way -- the party knew full well that he would be double crossing them, and only let him travel with them because then they could keep an eye on him instead of being surprised when he attacked. Of course, they weren't expecting the wand of invisibility.*

All my opinion, of course -- if he worked out better for you than he did for me, it might just be that you're style of game is better suited to that kind of encounter.

* Nooooooo-one expects the wand of invisibility!

Edited by: msherman at: 3/13/04 7:02 am
GM Nemo
Staj
(3/13/04 6:13 pm)
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Re: Be very careful with Chat
Chat has far from perfect knowledge, but there is nobody in the group who isn't walking wounded, and many of them are walking with large open wounds and scorch marks. Chat's going to invis and withdraw long enough to quaff his potion of CMW, but if the party doesn't drop the two cultist corpses that they're presently carrying, they aren't going to be able to evade him.

I'm really hoping that they decide to pitch the cultist bodies, give Sorion's body to someone strong (Namgo) and they take off at a dead sprint. If not, Namgo's going to have to be the next target, and they they'll *have* to abandon corpses in order to escape.

I agree that Chatrilon is a really nasty thing to toss in, in all likelihood, at the tail end of the first trip to the moathouse or (worse) at the tail end of the fight with Big U. But he also demonstrates just how big of a thing the PCs have stepped into, that they're outgunned that quickly and (likely) without warning.

If the PCs do retreat quickly, I think I'll give them a chance to be clever and move fast to try and catch Chatrilon grabbing the rest of his things from Hommlet and warning the folks there. I expect that if they jump at that, they'll also have a chance to get a hint that Maridosen could be working for the same people as Chat, even if she doesn't like him.

From there, I'm not sure whether he'd hide out with Jaroo or the Mill folks, or whether he'd head back to the Moathouse.

N1njato
Staj
(3/14/04 5:36 am)
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Re: Be very careful with Chat
Chat *just* killed off perhaps the toughest fighter in the party. I gave LOTS of warning.

First, the new party member this very day warned them (with is gather information skill as a rogue) that Chatrilon was planning on taking them out. They said 'ok we'll take care of him when we get back to town...' :rolleyes

They go into the Moathouse for the 4th time. They only had the Obelisk to study as they'd cleard out the rest. The Grell (very tough, and with 10 attacks :eek there's no way they should be CR3 IMO). Unfortunately, Chatrilon had been following them for a long time, hiding and using his wand if necessary. He waited for them to go inside, then stole their horses.

Once he got to town, he made sure the horses were spotted. This happened sort of by accident. I was actually planning on having him try to 'hide' the horses in the Miller's house. He was just basically stealing the horses and hiding them in there. So as to remain unseen, he used a charge of the wand. Not such a hot idea. People saw two horses walking side by side down the street. Of course, people noticed and remembered. The PC's had an Owl who flew up and spotted the horses far off in the distance, going towards Homlett, so the PC's knew where to start looking.

They arrive. The owners of the horses are VERY determined to find them, even forgoeing rest and full recovery. They stroll off. Asking a few townsfolk turns up the clues to the Miller's house. Here's the part I hadn't exactly planned. They broke in, Chat invisible on the first floor, observing the zealous fighter (wearing Mithril Full Plate no doubt AC21), alone up front... 8o

So, Chat saw his chance. He was probably going to be discovered anyway. There was tons of flour in the air, and he was invisible but could be seen. Anyway, he took the shot. Natural 20. Saving throw for the Death attack... 1 :eek

Then, there's an uproar "No way, he didn't have 3 rounds to study the target". We weren't in combat, so I'd already ruled that he'd just watched them. I gave them the benefit of the doubt. A big benefit. I told the sorcerer that he'd had a 'forsight' and had 3 rounds to save the life of the fighter. Yes, this is way too much leeway. But wait. So, he casts obscuring mist... the fighter roleplays correctly "What are you doing?", and leaves the cloud. 3 rounds later, Chat takes his shot again (I kept the same rolls). Dead.

We left off the game at a cliffhanger. There are about 5 players (-1 dead, so 4). Chat still has his wand, a 5 foot step to take, and initiative to check. If he's first, he's gone. Even if they all go first, I don't see them killing him in 1 round. He is one very tough NPC. I also think that he can TPK them now, but I don't think they realize it just yet.

Is that bad? Hell no. We all had a LOT of fun today, in a devilish sort of way. I'm not worried about it. I think if they're smart, they can run. IF they all ran there's no way he could kill them all. But I have a feeling they'll try to take him out. It's all in player decisions, and that's the fun of D&D. If the PC in a group is an assassin, and criticalled a very important NPC and he died, everyone would be like "WHOO HOO!". It should go both ways to keep consistant. Anyway, my point is, play him to the best of his ability. Smart PC's CAN survive, but unlucky rolls will get them killed. That's just part of the game IMO.

ieri
Staj
(3/15/04 4:29 am)
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Re: Be very careful with Chat
I just did Chat on Friday. He overheard the party talking to Xaod and Maridosen, so he slipped away, used that handy scroll of undetectable alignment (he could tell one party member was a Paladin of Pelor) and came back. When he couldn't convince them to go to the ruined temple (in the end, they decided to go to the moathouse first because it was closer... I guess being lazy can pay off), he wormed his way into the party (though, he had to agree to take a half share of loot, as did the Paladin, to get the greedy Ranger and Mage to agree to bring him along... "as long as it doesn't cost me anything" mentality). The paladin just wanted to save Renne's dad, he didn't care about loot, and figured any help from someone who obviously wasn't evil *grin* (even if they obviously were greedy... he's gotten used to greed in his companions by now... as long as it doesn't lead to evil, it's tolerable).

So they fought big U, barely won (big U fled, with 7 HP left, but they were sorely hurt, and out of healing), then decided to rest in the ruined tower, figuring it was the most defensible position. They didn't trust Chat (cudos for the Cleric for insisting on not letting him have a watch, he saved them all). But, when the ranger was taking a watch by himself, Chat tried to take him by surprise. Unfortunantely, the ranger rolled a natural 20 on his spot check, and was alerted. The end result was that Chat found himself in the ruined tower, surrounded by half asleep foes, with the ranger blocking the exit. Chat's dead now.

In retrospect, I should've had him try something during the cleric's watch. Less chance of being spotted.

-Ieri

N1njato
Staj
(3/15/04 12:19 pm)
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Re: Be very careful with Chat
Didn't Chat use his wand and then do a sneak attack (and then death blow thing)? That would've taken him out almost for sure.

Edited by: N1njato at: 3/15/04 12:20 pm
Caedrel
Ghoul Worm
(3/15/04 3:46 pm)
Reply
ezSupporter
Re: Be very careful with Chat
Chat was a member of the party at the time, so that would have imposed some limitations on him. Using the wand requires a command word, which would surely have alerted the person on watch, and his subsequent absence would probably have led to the rest of the party being woken.

Same with the preparation for a death attack: he has to study his target for 3 rounds. Can you do that while pretending to be asleep? Or while pretending to have a conversation with your target? My sense of the death attack is that it requires pretty intense concentration, and if Chat had been staring at me while I was on watch in the middle of the night, I'd get pretty tense pretty quickly too.

I wouldn't sweat the "he should have attacked the cleric" idea: it was a judgement call that easily fits into Chat's personality and intelligence score. I think that NPCs should make tactical mistakes every so often, rather than getting the maximum use out of their abilities every time. And even the cleric would probably have seen him with a natural 20 on his Spot roll :)

GM Nemo
Staj
(3/16/04 9:55 am)
Reply
Re: Be very careful with Chat
A good natural 20 or stream of luck will tend to help the party a lot against a single opponent. Case in point, Chatrilon just got his invisibility up, but didn't have time to also move out of range. Everyone in the party missed with their attacks due to the invis, save for the monk, who landed a stunning fist! They may take him out yet. At the very least, Seriph has moved up Chat's hit list.

ZansForCans 
Oathstalker
(3/16/04 2:45 pm)
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Re: Be very careful with Chat
Quote:
There was tons of flour in the air, and he was invisible but could be seen.


I might have ruled that flour would be enough to 'detect' him (ruining his death attack try), so don't sweat the extra chance you gave them.

Chat and Big U both are potentially very challenging and fun encounters to kick this adventure off. You do have to know your players well to know if you can use their full capabilities.

IMC, I played everything quiet and relatively calm until they got to the moathouse (they didn't do too much deep poking in town first). Keep in mind that if Chat follows the party, he's most interested in just keeping them out of the cult's hair at first (remember he tries to get them to go to the Temple instead for example). Killing blows his cover once and for all likely. When he gets to the moathouse, he's got a shock himself at the destruction Big U has caused. He joined the party IMC during their attack on the dragon, but nearly got himself killed (missed *two* sneaks on Big U--pathetic). It was really great because the group thought he was a total inept idiot who was just a treasure hunting leech.

Then, on their return they searched the whole upper area by splitting up into pairs. Oh man. I couldn't have planned it any better. The mage invited Chat to go with her. She made her death save while searching a room with him :) They captured Chat shortly after the scream (partly due to a minor DM flub on my part), but he got free back in Hommlet with Jaroo's help and ended up sneaking ahead of the party and down into the moathouse basement to alert and join the ranks there. He nearly killed a character (regular flank sneak--still very nasty for him) in the big combat later but fell for good shortly afterward.

All in all, I was very happy with the fiction and recurring challenge he presented early on. Get inside his head as a hire or outside member of the cult and think about his real motivation. His skill is in killing effectively but is it his sole motivation? If you're worried about his power, don't forget the paralyzing option (even if you knock down the XPs for him as a result) if you want him to toy with them instead. If you don't think they can take him on right off the bat, even giving the party a taste of his power and having him decide it's not worth the effort/pay is a good way to let them know that they better take this endeavor carefully. Then have him show up later and make them hate him (more). :)


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GM Nemo
Staj
(3/16/04 5:12 pm)
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Re: Be very careful with Chat
IMC, Chat is a self-infatuated killer who does so for the thrill of it. When they met him in town, he seemed incredibly bored and borderline depressed, perfect for an out-of-work adventurer, but in point of fact mostly because he hadn't gotten to use his skills lately.

Once he saw an opportunity to enact his contract, he was almost manic from the rush of the kill. He's the killer that people hire to get the job done, then after the fact they usually say things like, "You disemboweled the guy's dog too. You didn't have to go that far, you sick b*st*rd."

Maridosen, IMC, is much more laid back and professional about keeping a finger on the pulse of Hommlet. That sickness about Chatrilon is part of why she rebuffs him and obviously dislikes him. The other part is simply that it makes a great cover. Even if j*ck*ass Chat goes and gets his cover blown, she'll still be sitting pretty.

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