Solos, pilfering content, and a session report

Posted on : 09-13-2009 | By : Brian | In : Advice, D&D, DM's Journal, Session Reports

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The first session report of the new adventure (the first adventure for 4th Edition written entirely by me, and not adapted from a published adventure) is up. Also, there are some new NPCs and locations on the main page of the campaign wiki.

The recent session got me thinking about some stuff. One fight in particular, the one where the PCs were attacked by undead creatures, gave me some insight as far as what is and isn’t fun for solo monsters. I used a solo monster in that fight, a zombie abomination from an RPGA adventure (I got it from the Compendium). I used the monster as written, and I ran into some issues. First, it’s probably important to use a solo that is the same level as the party. This solo was a level behind, and its attack bonuses just weren’t up to par. Actually, I’m not sure why its attack bonuses were so low. It had trouble landing any hits on the part, and at one point it was marked by Chance, but in order to hit him it literally had to roll a natural 20. The abomination wound up being a big sack of hit points, but not really much of a credible threat.

Another issue with the abomination is its Rise Again power; basically, when the abomination is killed, it gets back up on the following round with half its max hit points. It’s not the first time I’ve seen this power; the zombie hulk from the monster manual has the same power. In the case of the zombie hulk, I think it’s okay. The hulk is a standard monster, with 88 hit points, meaning it’ll rise again with 44; a group with two strikers (like mine) should be able to take that out in a round or two, so you get some dramatic tension when it gets back up, but it doesn’t drag the combat out too much. With the abomination, though, has 232 hit points, so it gets back up with 116; that’s a lot of extra hit points. What I found is that the power made the combat drag on a little too long, after the party’s victory was already a foregone conclusion. In general, I think it’s a bad idea to give solos, and maybe even elites, abilities that make them harder to hit or give them too many hit points. You want them to last for a while, but you don’t want them to overstay their welcome or make the combat drag. Solos should also have pretty good attack bonuses, so that they actually feel like a big threat. As it was, I think the forsaken shell did more damage than the zombie abomination did.

I’ve also been reading the new Eberron Campaign Guide, and I’m definitely going to be stealing some ideas from it for my campaign. You may already have seen some of that in the newest session report, in my mention of a druidic sect known as the Wardens of the Wood. In that case, it’s basically just a name I liked, but there are other, more significant things that I’ll be borrowing and adapting for the campaign. Just wait and see.

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