Last night was the latest Storm Point session. Due to some real-life concerns, we had to make sure that the game wrapped up early, which at first disappointed me a little, because the encounter I had planned was a tough one, and I didnâ€™t want it glossed over.
In retrospect, Iâ€™m very glad that the session ended early, because I made the encounter waaaay too difficult. Somehow, even though I keep the character sheets for the players between sessions, I got into my head that the characters were 9th level, instead of 8th. So, I whipped up an encounter that included a few level 13 critters*.
Four levels above the party, thatâ€™s doable, I find, though it can take some time. But five levels above, and thereâ€™s a real tendency of the game to start to drag, as the characters are hitting less and less often, and the players get frustrated, and so forth. Iâ€™ve noticed that I have a real tendency to want to ramp up the challenge for characters, which Iâ€™m trying to curb.
My rationale for making the fights tough is that then the characters really feel like theyâ€™ve accomplished something when they win. The downside of this is that, without a balance of easy (or at least less challenging) encounters, the players donâ€™t get to see how good theyâ€™ve become, and how they can walk all over some monsters that they used to have to run from.
So, last night’s battle was too tough, especially for the time frame we were dealing with. I started worrying about it right at the start of the session, so instead of having the vrocks swoop in on the party once they were inextricably engaged with the minotaurs, I decided to strike first with the vrocks, and unleash the minotaurs on any of the party that landed their hippogriffs to try and make for the tunnel.
If I hadn’t done that, I think the fight would have gone very badly for our heroes.
They were (most of them) having real problems hitting the vrocks, and wisely stayed out of range of the minotaurs on the ground. Every time one of the vrocks hit a party member, it was doing almost a quarter of their hit points damage. Most of the group ganged up on one vrock to take it down, while the ranger – who didn’t seem to have nearly the trouble hitting as everyone else, and was rolling out 20-30 points of damage a round – managed to take the other one down by himself.
In the fight, I had the minotaurs rush out for a round or two when one of the characters wound up on the ground, and then I pulled them back into the tunnel. I’ll save them for another encounter.
Before the next game, I need to redo my encounter plans – give the party some easier fights to help the pace of the game and decrease the frustration that everyone was feeling by the end of this one.
Well, everyone but the ranger.
*3 minotaur warriors, 1 minotaur cabalist, 2 vrock demons, for a total of 3,900 xp, a level 11 encounter for 6 characters. Back
Gotta watch power interactions as well. I stun locked the party once with a knockdown + daze effect. That didn’t go over well.
Insubstantial is another power that will annoy players. Nothing like hitting for a swack of damage only to have it halved.