D&D

So, Jeff, Storn and I are thinking about gaming together again.

I have been hankering for DMing some D&D ever since 4th came out and thought this was a good opportunity to do so. I know there are some 4E-heads out there on this friendslist, so I am asking some questions.

It looks like this group will be just two players + the DM, though at times Julie will be able to join us, we hope.

Any ideas or thoughts on how or if this game is going to work without a full compliment of 5 players in the party?

Should the other roles in the party be pawn-like NPC with limited options so that their play will go faster but still present to back up the two player characters? Will skill challenges work with only two players (or three, even)?

Thoughts appreciated.

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108 thoughts on “D&D

  1. Totally off topic (I haven’t had a chance to play 4e yet, nor does it look like I will for awhile), but do you work in Olin? What do you do there? I’m slowly trying to work out how to “operate” the libraries around campus (I need to attend more workshops, for one thing). I’ve never done “academic research”, so it’s a new thing.

  2. Totally off topic (I haven’t had a chance to play 4e yet, nor does it look like I will for awhile), but do you work in Olin? What do you do there? I’m slowly trying to work out how to “operate” the libraries around campus (I need to attend more workshops, for one thing). I’ve never done “academic research”, so it’s a new thing.

  3. Totally off topic (I haven’t had a chance to play 4e yet, nor does it look like I will for awhile), but do you work in Olin? What do you do there? I’m slowly trying to work out how to “operate” the libraries around campus (I need to attend more workshops, for one thing). I’ve never done “academic research”, so it’s a new thing.

  4. Totally off topic (I haven’t had a chance to play 4e yet, nor does it look like I will for awhile), but do you work in Olin? What do you do there? I’m slowly trying to work out how to “operate” the libraries around campus (I need to attend more workshops, for one thing). I’ve never done “academic research”, so it’s a new thing.

  5. If you were to make the PC’s either a pair of apprentices to an NPC master or, my preference, PC Master and his apprentice adventuring in the mode of the Knight-Errant, there’s a lot of potential.

    It would be a bit away from the 4E paradigm, but I could definitely dig some skill challenges related to replacing and repairing the Knight’s armor during a murthering great battle, or trying to hunt down a bottle of good red wine for a magical ritual that your master is preparing for a very important client.

  6. If you were to make the PC’s either a pair of apprentices to an NPC master or, my preference, PC Master and his apprentice adventuring in the mode of the Knight-Errant, there’s a lot of potential.

    It would be a bit away from the 4E paradigm, but I could definitely dig some skill challenges related to replacing and repairing the Knight’s armor during a murthering great battle, or trying to hunt down a bottle of good red wine for a magical ritual that your master is preparing for a very important client.

  7. If you were to make the PC’s either a pair of apprentices to an NPC master or, my preference, PC Master and his apprentice adventuring in the mode of the Knight-Errant, there’s a lot of potential.

    It would be a bit away from the 4E paradigm, but I could definitely dig some skill challenges related to replacing and repairing the Knight’s armor during a murthering great battle, or trying to hunt down a bottle of good red wine for a magical ritual that your master is preparing for a very important client.

  8. If you were to make the PC’s either a pair of apprentices to an NPC master or, my preference, PC Master and his apprentice adventuring in the mode of the Knight-Errant, there’s a lot of potential.

    It would be a bit away from the 4E paradigm, but I could definitely dig some skill challenges related to replacing and repairing the Knight’s armor during a murthering great battle, or trying to hunt down a bottle of good red wine for a magical ritual that your master is preparing for a very important client.

  9. Early on, I ran for three players. If you’d like to have a Skype call or something about it, I’d be down for that, because I think getting info out of my head would work better as a conversation than as my trying to guess at what’s relevant (if that makes sense).

  10. Early on, I ran for three players. If you’d like to have a Skype call or something about it, I’d be down for that, because I think getting info out of my head would work better as a conversation than as my trying to guess at what’s relevant (if that makes sense).

  11. Early on, I ran for three players. If you’d like to have a Skype call or something about it, I’d be down for that, because I think getting info out of my head would work better as a conversation than as my trying to guess at what’s relevant (if that makes sense).

  12. Early on, I ran for three players. If you’d like to have a Skype call or something about it, I’d be down for that, because I think getting info out of my head would work better as a conversation than as my trying to guess at what’s relevant (if that makes sense).

  13. My experience with the system so far is that it’s doable if you play with less than five, but you have to know about the sharp corners:

    – DMs have to take into account the party holes: if your players have no Controller (with attendant area effect powers), then you can’t throw too many minions into the mix. To me, this is probably one of the biggest problems you’ll experience, because I think the presence of minions is one of they key great features of 4e.

    – If your players have no access to healing (i.e. a Leader/Cleric), then you have to be very careful about pacing, especially between encounters. You can find that you’re stretching believability — the problem I ran into was twofold: either the party keeps moving forward, or the party engages one encounter in such a way as to make it seem “sensible” that the next encounter would follow swiftly thereupon (your foes cry for help!). When things go down hill for PCs, they can go downhill fast, and the curve towards death is an accelerating one (aggravated by having spent encounter powers and daily powers).

    – Players have to be very careful to cover as much of the role bases as they can, and avoid stepping on the schticks of others as much as they can. With parties of five, some skill overlap, or power overlap is doable. With less than five, you find yourself saying things like “well, I could take training in Arcana, it fits within my view of what this character might be like, but Bob already has a character with that skill, so….”

    With only two players, I might be strongly tempted to given each player a Patsy (hireling) to lean on (and then have to play), or, more probably, start PCs off at a higher level (maybe third or fourth) and insist on multiclassing, to help cover over more roles. However, this will also have a strong effect on you prepping for sessions, knowing what your PCs can, and cannot, effectively handle.

    To me, what the sweet spot of four or five PCs really means is that the game is designed to make the GMs’ job the easiest in this situation. Any other situation is theoretically doable, but it requires conscious changes on both GM and players as to how exactly to put the game into motion…

  14. My experience with the system so far is that it’s doable if you play with less than five, but you have to know about the sharp corners:

    – DMs have to take into account the party holes: if your players have no Controller (with attendant area effect powers), then you can’t throw too many minions into the mix. To me, this is probably one of the biggest problems you’ll experience, because I think the presence of minions is one of they key great features of 4e.

    – If your players have no access to healing (i.e. a Leader/Cleric), then you have to be very careful about pacing, especially between encounters. You can find that you’re stretching believability — the problem I ran into was twofold: either the party keeps moving forward, or the party engages one encounter in such a way as to make it seem “sensible” that the next encounter would follow swiftly thereupon (your foes cry for help!). When things go down hill for PCs, they can go downhill fast, and the curve towards death is an accelerating one (aggravated by having spent encounter powers and daily powers).

    – Players have to be very careful to cover as much of the role bases as they can, and avoid stepping on the schticks of others as much as they can. With parties of five, some skill overlap, or power overlap is doable. With less than five, you find yourself saying things like “well, I could take training in Arcana, it fits within my view of what this character might be like, but Bob already has a character with that skill, so….”

    With only two players, I might be strongly tempted to given each player a Patsy (hireling) to lean on (and then have to play), or, more probably, start PCs off at a higher level (maybe third or fourth) and insist on multiclassing, to help cover over more roles. However, this will also have a strong effect on you prepping for sessions, knowing what your PCs can, and cannot, effectively handle.

    To me, what the sweet spot of four or five PCs really means is that the game is designed to make the GMs’ job the easiest in this situation. Any other situation is theoretically doable, but it requires conscious changes on both GM and players as to how exactly to put the game into motion…

  15. My experience with the system so far is that it’s doable if you play with less than five, but you have to know about the sharp corners:

    – DMs have to take into account the party holes: if your players have no Controller (with attendant area effect powers), then you can’t throw too many minions into the mix. To me, this is probably one of the biggest problems you’ll experience, because I think the presence of minions is one of they key great features of 4e.

    – If your players have no access to healing (i.e. a Leader/Cleric), then you have to be very careful about pacing, especially between encounters. You can find that you’re stretching believability — the problem I ran into was twofold: either the party keeps moving forward, or the party engages one encounter in such a way as to make it seem “sensible” that the next encounter would follow swiftly thereupon (your foes cry for help!). When things go down hill for PCs, they can go downhill fast, and the curve towards death is an accelerating one (aggravated by having spent encounter powers and daily powers).

    – Players have to be very careful to cover as much of the role bases as they can, and avoid stepping on the schticks of others as much as they can. With parties of five, some skill overlap, or power overlap is doable. With less than five, you find yourself saying things like “well, I could take training in Arcana, it fits within my view of what this character might be like, but Bob already has a character with that skill, so….”

    With only two players, I might be strongly tempted to given each player a Patsy (hireling) to lean on (and then have to play), or, more probably, start PCs off at a higher level (maybe third or fourth) and insist on multiclassing, to help cover over more roles. However, this will also have a strong effect on you prepping for sessions, knowing what your PCs can, and cannot, effectively handle.

    To me, what the sweet spot of four or five PCs really means is that the game is designed to make the GMs’ job the easiest in this situation. Any other situation is theoretically doable, but it requires conscious changes on both GM and players as to how exactly to put the game into motion…

  16. My experience with the system so far is that it’s doable if you play with less than five, but you have to know about the sharp corners:

    – DMs have to take into account the party holes: if your players have no Controller (with attendant area effect powers), then you can’t throw too many minions into the mix. To me, this is probably one of the biggest problems you’ll experience, because I think the presence of minions is one of they key great features of 4e.

    – If your players have no access to healing (i.e. a Leader/Cleric), then you have to be very careful about pacing, especially between encounters. You can find that you’re stretching believability — the problem I ran into was twofold: either the party keeps moving forward, or the party engages one encounter in such a way as to make it seem “sensible” that the next encounter would follow swiftly thereupon (your foes cry for help!). When things go down hill for PCs, they can go downhill fast, and the curve towards death is an accelerating one (aggravated by having spent encounter powers and daily powers).

    – Players have to be very careful to cover as much of the role bases as they can, and avoid stepping on the schticks of others as much as they can. With parties of five, some skill overlap, or power overlap is doable. With less than five, you find yourself saying things like “well, I could take training in Arcana, it fits within my view of what this character might be like, but Bob already has a character with that skill, so….”

    With only two players, I might be strongly tempted to given each player a Patsy (hireling) to lean on (and then have to play), or, more probably, start PCs off at a higher level (maybe third or fourth) and insist on multiclassing, to help cover over more roles. However, this will also have a strong effect on you prepping for sessions, knowing what your PCs can, and cannot, effectively handle.

    To me, what the sweet spot of four or five PCs really means is that the game is designed to make the GMs’ job the easiest in this situation. Any other situation is theoretically doable, but it requires conscious changes on both GM and players as to how exactly to put the game into motion…

  17. Consider a NPC medic; somewhere on his site, the ENW member Asmor has an excellent stat block for one. Nice and easy to run.

    Also, consider classes that have some dual role capabilities, like the ones from the PHB2. F’rinstance, the druid is a controller with some striker capability; similarly, the paladin is a defender with some leader built in.

    I think this would work really well. The DM just needs to adjust accordingly.

  18. Consider a NPC medic; somewhere on his site, the ENW member Asmor has an excellent stat block for one. Nice and easy to run.

    Also, consider classes that have some dual role capabilities, like the ones from the PHB2. F’rinstance, the druid is a controller with some striker capability; similarly, the paladin is a defender with some leader built in.

    I think this would work really well. The DM just needs to adjust accordingly.

  19. Consider a NPC medic; somewhere on his site, the ENW member Asmor has an excellent stat block for one. Nice and easy to run.

    Also, consider classes that have some dual role capabilities, like the ones from the PHB2. F’rinstance, the druid is a controller with some striker capability; similarly, the paladin is a defender with some leader built in.

    I think this would work really well. The DM just needs to adjust accordingly.

  20. Consider a NPC medic; somewhere on his site, the ENW member Asmor has an excellent stat block for one. Nice and easy to run.

    Also, consider classes that have some dual role capabilities, like the ones from the PHB2. F’rinstance, the druid is a controller with some striker capability; similarly, the paladin is a defender with some leader built in.

    I think this would work really well. The DM just needs to adjust accordingly.

  21. As above, it’s probably useful to have NPCs or perhaps let each player run two PCs to make sure you’ve got the full range of roles in play.

    That said, only two could work if you’re careful to choose monsters that match what the PCs can do (i.e. huge minion swarms when there’s no Controller is a problem). Multi-classing will also help round out the abilities PCs can bring to bear. And, of course, the encounters themselves will be smaller.

    For skill challenges, there’s some great stuff < HREF="http://at-will.omnivangelist.net/">on this blog<> (click on the “skill challenge” tag for a quick list).

    One thing I’m planning to do with my game is to give bonus points to players who succeed at skill challenges. These bonus points allow you to take a healing surge or use an Encounter power you have (even if expended). With a few skill challenges sprinkled around, you can give PCs reloads on their strongest powers allowing them to use them more frequently in a fight (and thus tip the scales in their favor).

    good luck
    Tom

  22. As above, it’s probably useful to have NPCs or perhaps let each player run two PCs to make sure you’ve got the full range of roles in play.

    That said, only two could work if you’re careful to choose monsters that match what the PCs can do (i.e. huge minion swarms when there’s no Controller is a problem). Multi-classing will also help round out the abilities PCs can bring to bear. And, of course, the encounters themselves will be smaller.

    For skill challenges, there’s some great stuff < HREF="http://at-will.omnivangelist.net/">on this blog<> (click on the “skill challenge” tag for a quick list).

    One thing I’m planning to do with my game is to give bonus points to players who succeed at skill challenges. These bonus points allow you to take a healing surge or use an Encounter power you have (even if expended). With a few skill challenges sprinkled around, you can give PCs reloads on their strongest powers allowing them to use them more frequently in a fight (and thus tip the scales in their favor).

    good luck
    Tom

  23. As above, it’s probably useful to have NPCs or perhaps let each player run two PCs to make sure you’ve got the full range of roles in play.

    That said, only two could work if you’re careful to choose monsters that match what the PCs can do (i.e. huge minion swarms when there’s no Controller is a problem). Multi-classing will also help round out the abilities PCs can bring to bear. And, of course, the encounters themselves will be smaller.

    For skill challenges, there’s some great stuff < HREF="http://at-will.omnivangelist.net/">on this blog<> (click on the “skill challenge” tag for a quick list).

    One thing I’m planning to do with my game is to give bonus points to players who succeed at skill challenges. These bonus points allow you to take a healing surge or use an Encounter power you have (even if expended). With a few skill challenges sprinkled around, you can give PCs reloads on their strongest powers allowing them to use them more frequently in a fight (and thus tip the scales in their favor).

    good luck
    Tom

  24. As above, it’s probably useful to have NPCs or perhaps let each player run two PCs to make sure you’ve got the full range of roles in play.

    That said, only two could work if you’re careful to choose monsters that match what the PCs can do (i.e. huge minion swarms when there’s no Controller is a problem). Multi-classing will also help round out the abilities PCs can bring to bear. And, of course, the encounters themselves will be smaller.

    For skill challenges, there’s some great stuff < HREF="http://at-will.omnivangelist.net/">on this blog<> (click on the “skill challenge” tag for a quick list).

    One thing I’m planning to do with my game is to give bonus points to players who succeed at skill challenges. These bonus points allow you to take a healing surge or use an Encounter power you have (even if expended). With a few skill challenges sprinkled around, you can give PCs reloads on their strongest powers allowing them to use them more frequently in a fight (and thus tip the scales in their favor).

    good luck
    Tom

  25. Well, there’s the four roles, of which controller is the most expendable, but that leaves defender, striker, leader (tank, DPS, heals). What I would recommend for two PCs, aside from being sure to appropriately scale down encounter sizes &c, is that you aim for one striker PC and one defender PC, each multiclassed into a leader and a controller. Which may sound restrictive in terms of character concepts, but with the PHB2 coming out, there’s a lot of conceptual room there — a swordmage/wizard and a barbarian/warlord team will be very different from a warden/druid and a warlock/bard.

    • I, on the other hand, don’t think that the controller is the most expendable. I think it depends on what kind of flavour you want from your game. I actually think that the defender might be the most expendable, in some games.

      When parties don’t have defenders, the number of brute opponents you throw into encounters should be examined with care. When parties don’t have controllers, the number of minions you thrown into encounters should be carefully considered.

      Frankly, I far prefer 4e encounters where minions are heavily used, because I think the game is the most fun with lots of tactical action and movement, and lots of figures in play. Encounters heavy with brutes tend towards “I-whack-you-whack-I-whack” static action. Sometimes that’s cool, but to me, it’s not necessarily where the fun lies.

      When you have a party of five, then you can get by without too much in the way of careful thought on how you’re building encounters. The minute you start cutting out roles, then both players and GMs have to spend careful thought to the roles that they have on the table…

        • Minions have the same attack capability as normal monster, just 1 HP. They general convert at the ratio of 3 minions for 1 normal monster. This means that the attack capability of minions per round effectively triples.

          In 4e, multiple attacks are quite scarce and generally limited to some dailies and encounter powers. Strikers can do loads of damage but it wasted on minions as they only need to do 1 HP. Defenders and Leaders aren’t that great at multiple opponents either, and will get swamped by too many minions.

          For example a 1st level fighter could probably take 2 normal monsters down in 3 to 4 rounds. Against 6 minions, he will take 6 rounds as he must attack each minion seperately.

          Controllers have many burst and blast powers that can take out large groups of minions in one attack. As such, a Controllers powers are best suited to deal with minions.

        • Minions have the same attack capability as normal monster, just 1 HP. They general convert at the ratio of 3 minions for 1 normal monster. This means that the attack capability of minions per round effectively triples.

          In 4e, multiple attacks are quite scarce and generally limited to some dailies and encounter powers. Strikers can do loads of damage but it wasted on minions as they only need to do 1 HP. Defenders and Leaders aren’t that great at multiple opponents either, and will get swamped by too many minions.

          For example a 1st level fighter could probably take 2 normal monsters down in 3 to 4 rounds. Against 6 minions, he will take 6 rounds as he must attack each minion seperately.

          Controllers have many burst and blast powers that can take out large groups of minions in one attack. As such, a Controllers powers are best suited to deal with minions.

        • Minions are tough opposition only in numbers when they surround the PCs, giving Combat Advantage to each other and to the main baddies with them. A couple minions flanking and giving Aid Another actions to, for example, the big high-damage Brute that’s with them, mean that Brute hits every time.

          Controllers specialize in area attacks that allow them to take out multiple minions with one action (or act to prevent smart minions from bunching up around the PCs). Some other classes can fill in here with some control features: the Rogue’s Blinding Barrage, the Fighter’s Cleave, and the Cleric’s Divine Glow to name a few.

        • Minions are tough opposition only in numbers when they surround the PCs, giving Combat Advantage to each other and to the main baddies with them. A couple minions flanking and giving Aid Another actions to, for example, the big high-damage Brute that’s with them, mean that Brute hits every time.

          Controllers specialize in area attacks that allow them to take out multiple minions with one action (or act to prevent smart minions from bunching up around the PCs). Some other classes can fill in here with some control features: the Rogue’s Blinding Barrage, the Fighter’s Cleave, and the Cleric’s Divine Glow to name a few.

        • I threw an encounter at my party of four 4th level PCs who were new to the game (they started with 4th level PCs) that consisted of one “normal” Ghoul and twelve minion Ghouls (a schoolmaster and his horde of converted school-children).

          Granted that the players were still getting used to the way the system works, but the encounter was inches away from a TPK.

          Ghouls are fast, and relatively hard to hit because of having high Reflex defences, and relatively tough ACs. They smacked around the Cleric first, who didn’t get Turning in time.

          It was not pretty.

          In this particular situation, the Cleric should have cleared out a swath by Turning, as this would have incinerated a large number of the minions, but the thought didn’t occur swiftly enough: rather he tried to manoeuvre into a position where his Turn would have taken on the schoolmaster instead, and by then, the kids had swarmed him, and everything went dark. Quickly.

        • I threw an encounter at my party of four 4th level PCs who were new to the game (they started with 4th level PCs) that consisted of one “normal” Ghoul and twelve minion Ghouls (a schoolmaster and his horde of converted school-children).

          Granted that the players were still getting used to the way the system works, but the encounter was inches away from a TPK.

          Ghouls are fast, and relatively hard to hit because of having high Reflex defences, and relatively tough ACs. They smacked around the Cleric first, who didn’t get Turning in time.

          It was not pretty.

          In this particular situation, the Cleric should have cleared out a swath by Turning, as this would have incinerated a large number of the minions, but the thought didn’t occur swiftly enough: rather he tried to manoeuvre into a position where his Turn would have taken on the schoolmaster instead, and by then, the kids had swarmed him, and everything went dark. Quickly.

    • I, on the other hand, don’t think that the controller is the most expendable. I think it depends on what kind of flavour you want from your game. I actually think that the defender might be the most expendable, in some games.

      When parties don’t have defenders, the number of brute opponents you throw into encounters should be examined with care. When parties don’t have controllers, the number of minions you thrown into encounters should be carefully considered.

      Frankly, I far prefer 4e encounters where minions are heavily used, because I think the game is the most fun with lots of tactical action and movement, and lots of figures in play. Encounters heavy with brutes tend towards “I-whack-you-whack-I-whack” static action. Sometimes that’s cool, but to me, it’s not necessarily where the fun lies.

      When you have a party of five, then you can get by without too much in the way of careful thought on how you’re building encounters. The minute you start cutting out roles, then both players and GMs have to spend careful thought to the roles that they have on the table…

  26. Well, there’s the four roles, of which controller is the most expendable, but that leaves defender, striker, leader (tank, DPS, heals). What I would recommend for two PCs, aside from being sure to appropriately scale down encounter sizes &c, is that you aim for one striker PC and one defender PC, each multiclassed into a leader and a controller. Which may sound restrictive in terms of character concepts, but with the PHB2 coming out, there’s a lot of conceptual room there — a swordmage/wizard and a barbarian/warlord team will be very different from a warden/druid and a warlock/bard.

  27. Well, there’s the four roles, of which controller is the most expendable, but that leaves defender, striker, leader (tank, DPS, heals). What I would recommend for two PCs, aside from being sure to appropriately scale down encounter sizes &c, is that you aim for one striker PC and one defender PC, each multiclassed into a leader and a controller. Which may sound restrictive in terms of character concepts, but with the PHB2 coming out, there’s a lot of conceptual room there — a swordmage/wizard and a barbarian/warlord team will be very different from a warden/druid and a warlock/bard.

  28. Well, there’s the four roles, of which controller is the most expendable, but that leaves defender, striker, leader (tank, DPS, heals). What I would recommend for two PCs, aside from being sure to appropriately scale down encounter sizes &c, is that you aim for one striker PC and one defender PC, each multiclassed into a leader and a controller. Which may sound restrictive in terms of character concepts, but with the PHB2 coming out, there’s a lot of conceptual room there — a swordmage/wizard and a barbarian/warlord team will be very different from a warden/druid and a warlock/bard.

  29. I, on the other hand, don’t think that the controller is the most expendable. I think it depends on what kind of flavour you want from your game. I actually think that the defender might be the most expendable, in some games.

    When parties don’t have defenders, the number of brute opponents you throw into encounters should be examined with care. When parties don’t have controllers, the number of minions you thrown into encounters should be carefully considered.

    Frankly, I far prefer 4e encounters where minions are heavily used, because I think the game is the most fun with lots of tactical action and movement, and lots of figures in play. Encounters heavy with brutes tend towards “I-whack-you-whack-I-whack” static action. Sometimes that’s cool, but to me, it’s not necessarily where the fun lies.

    When you have a party of five, then you can get by without too much in the way of careful thought on how you’re building encounters. The minute you start cutting out roles, then both players and GMs have to spend careful thought to the roles that they have on the table…

  30. I, on the other hand, don’t think that the controller is the most expendable. I think it depends on what kind of flavour you want from your game. I actually think that the defender might be the most expendable, in some games.

    When parties don’t have defenders, the number of brute opponents you throw into encounters should be examined with care. When parties don’t have controllers, the number of minions you thrown into encounters should be carefully considered.

    Frankly, I far prefer 4e encounters where minions are heavily used, because I think the game is the most fun with lots of tactical action and movement, and lots of figures in play. Encounters heavy with brutes tend towards “I-whack-you-whack-I-whack” static action. Sometimes that’s cool, but to me, it’s not necessarily where the fun lies.

    When you have a party of five, then you can get by without too much in the way of careful thought on how you’re building encounters. The minute you start cutting out roles, then both players and GMs have to spend careful thought to the roles that they have on the table…

  31. Re: Link to the Library

    Thanks. Don’t worry; I’m not going to come asking all sorts of obnoxious questions, or emailing you or something. I don’t work for free, and neither should you. 😉 I’m mostly up in Mann, anyways – it’s a bit more convenient to Kennedy.

  32. Re: Link to the Library

    Thanks. Don’t worry; I’m not going to come asking all sorts of obnoxious questions, or emailing you or something. I don’t work for free, and neither should you. 😉 I’m mostly up in Mann, anyways – it’s a bit more convenient to Kennedy.

  33. That Skill Challenge blog is great. I’ve made use of it a couple times (though I’m using the Obsidian Skill Challenge System 1.2) I’m actually going to use a variant of that Walk Through Dreams challenge on Sunday.

    Having a Defender role in the party is important. You can fill in some healing with either another character, healing potions, or some multi-classing.
    Defender + Leader or Defender + Striker are both nice choices.

    If someone in the party likes the cut of the Swordmage’s jib, (FRPG book), he is basically a Defender/Controller that is very good against minions. In our group he adds a wuxia flavor to the game, and I get to throw tons of minions at the PCs.

    An option: In our Nordic campaign, “The Sven Chronicles,” we have a Human Lackey (MM, p 162) join us on each of our “away missions.” We treat the rest of the party as effectual with regard to their “Mob Rule” power so they’ve got great defenses and contribute very well to a low-level party, hitting consistently for 6 damage, yet being very fast and easy to run. Even with 1 hit point, they sometimes make it back to the longship because their defenses are so good relative to the opposition we come up against. Give them some personality and some color and the PCs will care about these relatively fragile Sven “red-shirts.” The ones that survive get to level up with the rest of the party (actually always 6 levels above).

    • I forgot to mention, our Sven “red-shirts” are a house-ruled “Elite Minion” They’re only Bloodied on the first hit, taken out on the second.

      “Elite Minions” also make for fun opposition that is easy to run. If you’re doing XP, I count them as worth half a standard level foe (double a regular minion).

      • The double-tag minions is a fantastic trick and one that seems to work really well at the table.

        I also have experimented with tougher minions, with a bit of built in damage resistance (say, 5 points per tier) so that it at least takes a substantial hit to drop one, and otherwise you don’t bother counting it.

      • The double-tag minions is a fantastic trick and one that seems to work really well at the table.

        I also have experimented with tougher minions, with a bit of built in damage resistance (say, 5 points per tier) so that it at least takes a substantial hit to drop one, and otherwise you don’t bother counting it.

    • I forgot to mention, our Sven “red-shirts” are a house-ruled “Elite Minion” They’re only Bloodied on the first hit, taken out on the second.

      “Elite Minions” also make for fun opposition that is easy to run. If you’re doing XP, I count them as worth half a standard level foe (double a regular minion).

  34. That Skill Challenge blog is great. I’ve made use of it a couple times (though I’m using the Obsidian Skill Challenge System 1.2) I’m actually going to use a variant of that Walk Through Dreams challenge on Sunday.

    Having a Defender role in the party is important. You can fill in some healing with either another character, healing potions, or some multi-classing.
    Defender + Leader or Defender + Striker are both nice choices.

    If someone in the party likes the cut of the Swordmage’s jib, (FRPG book), he is basically a Defender/Controller that is very good against minions. In our group he adds a wuxia flavor to the game, and I get to throw tons of minions at the PCs.

    An option: In our Nordic campaign, “The Sven Chronicles,” we have a Human Lackey (MM, p 162) join us on each of our “away missions.” We treat the rest of the party as effectual with regard to their “Mob Rule” power so they’ve got great defenses and contribute very well to a low-level party, hitting consistently for 6 damage, yet being very fast and easy to run. Even with 1 hit point, they sometimes make it back to the longship because their defenses are so good relative to the opposition we come up against. Give them some personality and some color and the PCs will care about these relatively fragile Sven “red-shirts.” The ones that survive get to level up with the rest of the party (actually always 6 levels above).

  35. That Skill Challenge blog is great. I’ve made use of it a couple times (though I’m using the Obsidian Skill Challenge System 1.2) I’m actually going to use a variant of that Walk Through Dreams challenge on Sunday.

    Having a Defender role in the party is important. You can fill in some healing with either another character, healing potions, or some multi-classing.
    Defender + Leader or Defender + Striker are both nice choices.

    If someone in the party likes the cut of the Swordmage’s jib, (FRPG book), he is basically a Defender/Controller that is very good against minions. In our group he adds a wuxia flavor to the game, and I get to throw tons of minions at the PCs.

    An option: In our Nordic campaign, “The Sven Chronicles,” we have a Human Lackey (MM, p 162) join us on each of our “away missions.” We treat the rest of the party as effectual with regard to their “Mob Rule” power so they’ve got great defenses and contribute very well to a low-level party, hitting consistently for 6 damage, yet being very fast and easy to run. Even with 1 hit point, they sometimes make it back to the longship because their defenses are so good relative to the opposition we come up against. Give them some personality and some color and the PCs will care about these relatively fragile Sven “red-shirts.” The ones that survive get to level up with the rest of the party (actually always 6 levels above).

  36. That Skill Challenge blog is great. I’ve made use of it a couple times (though I’m using the Obsidian Skill Challenge System 1.2) I’m actually going to use a variant of that Walk Through Dreams challenge on Sunday.

    Having a Defender role in the party is important. You can fill in some healing with either another character, healing potions, or some multi-classing.
    Defender + Leader or Defender + Striker are both nice choices.

    If someone in the party likes the cut of the Swordmage’s jib, (FRPG book), he is basically a Defender/Controller that is very good against minions. In our group he adds a wuxia flavor to the game, and I get to throw tons of minions at the PCs.

    An option: In our Nordic campaign, “The Sven Chronicles,” we have a Human Lackey (MM, p 162) join us on each of our “away missions.” We treat the rest of the party as effectual with regard to their “Mob Rule” power so they’ve got great defenses and contribute very well to a low-level party, hitting consistently for 6 damage, yet being very fast and easy to run. Even with 1 hit point, they sometimes make it back to the longship because their defenses are so good relative to the opposition we come up against. Give them some personality and some color and the PCs will care about these relatively fragile Sven “red-shirts.” The ones that survive get to level up with the rest of the party (actually always 6 levels above).

  37. I forgot to mention, our Sven “red-shirts” are a house-ruled “Elite Minion” They’re only Bloodied on the first hit, taken out on the second.

    “Elite Minions” also make for fun opposition that is easy to run. If you’re doing XP, I count them as worth half a standard level foe (double a regular minion).

  38. I forgot to mention, our Sven “red-shirts” are a house-ruled “Elite Minion” They’re only Bloodied on the first hit, taken out on the second.

    “Elite Minions” also make for fun opposition that is easy to run. If you’re doing XP, I count them as worth half a standard level foe (double a regular minion).

  39. Minions have the same attack capability as normal monster, just 1 HP. They general convert at the ratio of 3 minions for 1 normal monster. This means that the attack capability of minions per round effectively triples.

    In 4e, multiple attacks are quite scarce and generally limited to some dailies and encounter powers. Strikers can do loads of damage but it wasted on minions as they only need to do 1 HP. Defenders and Leaders aren’t that great at multiple opponents either, and will get swamped by too many minions.

    For example a 1st level fighter could probably take 2 normal monsters down in 3 to 4 rounds. Against 6 minions, he will take 6 rounds as he must attack each minion seperately.

    Controllers have many burst and blast powers that can take out large groups of minions in one attack. As such, a Controllers powers are best suited to deal with minions.

  40. Minions have the same attack capability as normal monster, just 1 HP. They general convert at the ratio of 3 minions for 1 normal monster. This means that the attack capability of minions per round effectively triples.

    In 4e, multiple attacks are quite scarce and generally limited to some dailies and encounter powers. Strikers can do loads of damage but it wasted on minions as they only need to do 1 HP. Defenders and Leaders aren’t that great at multiple opponents either, and will get swamped by too many minions.

    For example a 1st level fighter could probably take 2 normal monsters down in 3 to 4 rounds. Against 6 minions, he will take 6 rounds as he must attack each minion seperately.

    Controllers have many burst and blast powers that can take out large groups of minions in one attack. As such, a Controllers powers are best suited to deal with minions.

  41. Minions are tough opposition only in numbers when they surround the PCs, giving Combat Advantage to each other and to the main baddies with them. A couple minions flanking and giving Aid Another actions to, for example, the big high-damage Brute that’s with them, mean that Brute hits every time.

    Controllers specialize in area attacks that allow them to take out multiple minions with one action (or act to prevent smart minions from bunching up around the PCs). Some other classes can fill in here with some control features: the Rogue’s Blinding Barrage, the Fighter’s Cleave, and the Cleric’s Divine Glow to name a few.

  42. Minions are tough opposition only in numbers when they surround the PCs, giving Combat Advantage to each other and to the main baddies with them. A couple minions flanking and giving Aid Another actions to, for example, the big high-damage Brute that’s with them, mean that Brute hits every time.

    Controllers specialize in area attacks that allow them to take out multiple minions with one action (or act to prevent smart minions from bunching up around the PCs). Some other classes can fill in here with some control features: the Rogue’s Blinding Barrage, the Fighter’s Cleave, and the Cleric’s Divine Glow to name a few.

  43. A group will survive without strikers; our group of four is doing fine without a controller too. Every role gap creates different sorts of weaknesses, but they’re foreseeable and to an extent they can be covered up with power choices and multiclassing.

    • AVOID NPCs in the Party!

      If they’re there as a crutch for the players it will get old and boring, “Hey Bob, toss me another Healing Potion!” It will constantly draw the players out of the game and make it less fun for them.

      A powerful high level NPC that is in a Master – Apprentice relationship with the PCs isn’t all that bad. They provide the players with motivations to go on quests they may not want to, and all sorts of interesting story twists (Kill this pretty girl you like because she will destroy my High Level Spell!, etc.). So that might be doable – the problem stems from having them involved in the combat and the adventuring directly. They become another, and an even more effective, crutch. You all will get tired of the excuses made up for why he isn’t just nuking all teh mobzors for the players.

      Multi-classing is probably the way to go. Let the players know right away that the game will be more difficult for them if they are only single class types. Let them start at a 3rd or 4th character level and have some multi-class already built in, if they want.

      You could even create a great background for why there are only two of them – say that all the other kids are off fighting some war, or the war has killed so many people they can’t find anyone else, or they are both under a death mark and the two of them have been sent off on a do or die mission.

      Don’t, obviously, pull any punches for your PCs. They won’t enjoy it as much. Throw the mobs and the big monsters at them – let them think on their toes more. Have them figure out ways of beating their enemies other than the patented “Scream and Leap!” strategy. They will thank you for it.

      With that said, you probably will want one of them to be a sneakist.

    • AVOID NPCs in the Party!

      If they’re there as a crutch for the players it will get old and boring, “Hey Bob, toss me another Healing Potion!” It will constantly draw the players out of the game and make it less fun for them.

      A powerful high level NPC that is in a Master – Apprentice relationship with the PCs isn’t all that bad. They provide the players with motivations to go on quests they may not want to, and all sorts of interesting story twists (Kill this pretty girl you like because she will destroy my High Level Spell!, etc.). So that might be doable – the problem stems from having them involved in the combat and the adventuring directly. They become another, and an even more effective, crutch. You all will get tired of the excuses made up for why he isn’t just nuking all teh mobzors for the players.

      Multi-classing is probably the way to go. Let the players know right away that the game will be more difficult for them if they are only single class types. Let them start at a 3rd or 4th character level and have some multi-class already built in, if they want.

      You could even create a great background for why there are only two of them – say that all the other kids are off fighting some war, or the war has killed so many people they can’t find anyone else, or they are both under a death mark and the two of them have been sent off on a do or die mission.

      Don’t, obviously, pull any punches for your PCs. They won’t enjoy it as much. Throw the mobs and the big monsters at them – let them think on their toes more. Have them figure out ways of beating their enemies other than the patented “Scream and Leap!” strategy. They will thank you for it.

      With that said, you probably will want one of them to be a sneakist.

  44. A group will survive without strikers; our group of four is doing fine without a controller too. Every role gap creates different sorts of weaknesses, but they’re foreseeable and to an extent they can be covered up with power choices and multiclassing.

  45. A group will survive without strikers; our group of four is doing fine without a controller too. Every role gap creates different sorts of weaknesses, but they’re foreseeable and to an extent they can be covered up with power choices and multiclassing.

  46. A group will survive without strikers; our group of four is doing fine without a controller too. Every role gap creates different sorts of weaknesses, but they’re foreseeable and to an extent they can be covered up with power choices and multiclassing.

  47. I threw an encounter at my party of four 4th level PCs who were new to the game (they started with 4th level PCs) that consisted of one “normal” Ghoul and twelve minion Ghouls (a schoolmaster and his horde of converted school-children).

    Granted that the players were still getting used to the way the system works, but the encounter was inches away from a TPK.

    Ghouls are fast, and relatively hard to hit because of having high Reflex defences, and relatively tough ACs. They smacked around the Cleric first, who didn’t get Turning in time.

    It was not pretty.

    In this particular situation, the Cleric should have cleared out a swath by Turning, as this would have incinerated a large number of the minions, but the thought didn’t occur swiftly enough: rather he tried to manoeuvre into a position where his Turn would have taken on the schoolmaster instead, and by then, the kids had swarmed him, and everything went dark. Quickly.

  48. I threw an encounter at my party of four 4th level PCs who were new to the game (they started with 4th level PCs) that consisted of one “normal” Ghoul and twelve minion Ghouls (a schoolmaster and his horde of converted school-children).

    Granted that the players were still getting used to the way the system works, but the encounter was inches away from a TPK.

    Ghouls are fast, and relatively hard to hit because of having high Reflex defences, and relatively tough ACs. They smacked around the Cleric first, who didn’t get Turning in time.

    It was not pretty.

    In this particular situation, the Cleric should have cleared out a swath by Turning, as this would have incinerated a large number of the minions, but the thought didn’t occur swiftly enough: rather he tried to manoeuvre into a position where his Turn would have taken on the schoolmaster instead, and by then, the kids had swarmed him, and everything went dark. Quickly.

  49. AVOID NPCs in the Party!

    If they’re there as a crutch for the players it will get old and boring, “Hey Bob, toss me another Healing Potion!” It will constantly draw the players out of the game and make it less fun for them.

    A powerful high level NPC that is in a Master – Apprentice relationship with the PCs isn’t all that bad. They provide the players with motivations to go on quests they may not want to, and all sorts of interesting story twists (Kill this pretty girl you like because she will destroy my High Level Spell!, etc.). So that might be doable – the problem stems from having them involved in the combat and the adventuring directly. They become another, and an even more effective, crutch. You all will get tired of the excuses made up for why he isn’t just nuking all teh mobzors for the players.

    Multi-classing is probably the way to go. Let the players know right away that the game will be more difficult for them if they are only single class types. Let them start at a 3rd or 4th character level and have some multi-class already built in, if they want.

    You could even create a great background for why there are only two of them – say that all the other kids are off fighting some war, or the war has killed so many people they can’t find anyone else, or they are both under a death mark and the two of them have been sent off on a do or die mission.

    Don’t, obviously, pull any punches for your PCs. They won’t enjoy it as much. Throw the mobs and the big monsters at them – let them think on their toes more. Have them figure out ways of beating their enemies other than the patented “Scream and Leap!” strategy. They will thank you for it.

    With that said, you probably will want one of them to be a sneakist.

  50. AVOID NPCs in the Party!

    If they’re there as a crutch for the players it will get old and boring, “Hey Bob, toss me another Healing Potion!” It will constantly draw the players out of the game and make it less fun for them.

    A powerful high level NPC that is in a Master – Apprentice relationship with the PCs isn’t all that bad. They provide the players with motivations to go on quests they may not want to, and all sorts of interesting story twists (Kill this pretty girl you like because she will destroy my High Level Spell!, etc.). So that might be doable – the problem stems from having them involved in the combat and the adventuring directly. They become another, and an even more effective, crutch. You all will get tired of the excuses made up for why he isn’t just nuking all teh mobzors for the players.

    Multi-classing is probably the way to go. Let the players know right away that the game will be more difficult for them if they are only single class types. Let them start at a 3rd or 4th character level and have some multi-class already built in, if they want.

    You could even create a great background for why there are only two of them – say that all the other kids are off fighting some war, or the war has killed so many people they can’t find anyone else, or they are both under a death mark and the two of them have been sent off on a do or die mission.

    Don’t, obviously, pull any punches for your PCs. They won’t enjoy it as much. Throw the mobs and the big monsters at them – let them think on their toes more. Have them figure out ways of beating their enemies other than the patented “Scream and Leap!” strategy. They will thank you for it.

    With that said, you probably will want one of them to be a sneakist.

  51. I have run and played in some 2 player games (we view them as Fahfrd and the Grey Mouser games) and they work really well, but it defintely takes a little tuning. Lots of good advice so far, so I’ll just throw in a little more.

    * Warlocks have a rough time of it (as to Witch Doctors, for the record) since they really need someone to keep the heat off them, and in a 2 player game, that’s hard. Wizards are in a similar boat, but they tend to have slightly better ACs and seem to have more workarounds (Pushs, movement and such)

    * Healing Surges are like gold, and you definitely want to keep track of where your guys will get them, especially if you have no cleric/warlord/paladin. As noted, multiclassing is a good way to pick some up (and generally, giving a free multiclassing feat to each player is not necessarily a bad thing). Potions help too, but I find them rough to keep track of, and weirdly leveled as items.

    * Warlords seem to suffer a little (except perhaps when paired with rogues) because position stunts carry less weight with fewer allies.

    * On the other hand, while you would expect Defenders to be less useful (since taunt i les central) the fighter and paladin really shine because of their secondary abilities. Fighter’s all around awesomeness really shows, and the Paladin’s extra healing helps too.

    * Rangers have an interesting time of it. Melee rangers do ok, but less well then rogues, but archery rangers will have trouble staying out of melee. In a 2 man game, I admit I would probably suggest that any time you’re thinking Ranger, a Rogue would be better, but I’m sure there’s an exception I haven’t thought of.

    * Wizards are hugely build dependant. AoE wizards can deal with minions, but then they die. However, wizards who concentrate on area control (with summoned effects) can really rock out.

    * Solos will kill you, even if the math of the encounter is theoretically fair. A lot of the MM Solos have abilities that effectively keep at least one person at bay or make it hard for them to use their abilities well, and with 2 men you can’t afford that.

    * Similarly, monsters with immediate and interrupt abilities will be more potent, since the group probably won’t end up triggerign them more than once anyway.

    * Unless you really like hirelings or explicitly want to play two characters, I’d leave them out, but instead take a much more free hand with introducing situational allies.

    * This is advice I give for groups of any size: Make the base unit of success for skill challenges a function of your table size, so 2 successes shoudl be enough to either finish a quick challenge or move a larger challenge forward.

    * More fights with tactical goals that can be measured in some way other than “Kill that guy”. Getting away, providing distractions and other urban adventure staples are all the more useful with 2 people.

    * Similarly, keep the intimidation rules in mind. For a small group, using intimidate on bloodied foes is hugely potent.

    • The person who wants to do the Intimidation bit in combat will want racial bonuses and/or skill focus to pull it off with a decent chance of success. It’s awesome, but you can’t half-ass it or it’s seldom worth the standard action.

      (Hmmm, a very scary Dragonborn Warlord or Warlock character idea is forming…)

    • The person who wants to do the Intimidation bit in combat will want racial bonuses and/or skill focus to pull it off with a decent chance of success. It’s awesome, but you can’t half-ass it or it’s seldom worth the standard action.

      (Hmmm, a very scary Dragonborn Warlord or Warlock character idea is forming…)

  52. I have run and played in some 2 player games (we view them as Fahfrd and the Grey Mouser games) and they work really well, but it defintely takes a little tuning. Lots of good advice so far, so I’ll just throw in a little more.

    * Warlocks have a rough time of it (as to Witch Doctors, for the record) since they really need someone to keep the heat off them, and in a 2 player game, that’s hard. Wizards are in a similar boat, but they tend to have slightly better ACs and seem to have more workarounds (Pushs, movement and such)

    * Healing Surges are like gold, and you definitely want to keep track of where your guys will get them, especially if you have no cleric/warlord/paladin. As noted, multiclassing is a good way to pick some up (and generally, giving a free multiclassing feat to each player is not necessarily a bad thing). Potions help too, but I find them rough to keep track of, and weirdly leveled as items.

    * Warlords seem to suffer a little (except perhaps when paired with rogues) because position stunts carry less weight with fewer allies.

    * On the other hand, while you would expect Defenders to be less useful (since taunt i les central) the fighter and paladin really shine because of their secondary abilities. Fighter’s all around awesomeness really shows, and the Paladin’s extra healing helps too.

    * Rangers have an interesting time of it. Melee rangers do ok, but less well then rogues, but archery rangers will have trouble staying out of melee. In a 2 man game, I admit I would probably suggest that any time you’re thinking Ranger, a Rogue would be better, but I’m sure there’s an exception I haven’t thought of.

    * Wizards are hugely build dependant. AoE wizards can deal with minions, but then they die. However, wizards who concentrate on area control (with summoned effects) can really rock out.

    * Solos will kill you, even if the math of the encounter is theoretically fair. A lot of the MM Solos have abilities that effectively keep at least one person at bay or make it hard for them to use their abilities well, and with 2 men you can’t afford that.

    * Similarly, monsters with immediate and interrupt abilities will be more potent, since the group probably won’t end up triggerign them more than once anyway.

    * Unless you really like hirelings or explicitly want to play two characters, I’d leave them out, but instead take a much more free hand with introducing situational allies.

    * This is advice I give for groups of any size: Make the base unit of success for skill challenges a function of your table size, so 2 successes shoudl be enough to either finish a quick challenge or move a larger challenge forward.

    * More fights with tactical goals that can be measured in some way other than “Kill that guy”. Getting away, providing distractions and other urban adventure staples are all the more useful with 2 people.

    * Similarly, keep the intimidation rules in mind. For a small group, using intimidate on bloodied foes is hugely potent.

  53. I have run and played in some 2 player games (we view them as Fahfrd and the Grey Mouser games) and they work really well, but it defintely takes a little tuning. Lots of good advice so far, so I’ll just throw in a little more.

    * Warlocks have a rough time of it (as to Witch Doctors, for the record) since they really need someone to keep the heat off them, and in a 2 player game, that’s hard. Wizards are in a similar boat, but they tend to have slightly better ACs and seem to have more workarounds (Pushs, movement and such)

    * Healing Surges are like gold, and you definitely want to keep track of where your guys will get them, especially if you have no cleric/warlord/paladin. As noted, multiclassing is a good way to pick some up (and generally, giving a free multiclassing feat to each player is not necessarily a bad thing). Potions help too, but I find them rough to keep track of, and weirdly leveled as items.

    * Warlords seem to suffer a little (except perhaps when paired with rogues) because position stunts carry less weight with fewer allies.

    * On the other hand, while you would expect Defenders to be less useful (since taunt i les central) the fighter and paladin really shine because of their secondary abilities. Fighter’s all around awesomeness really shows, and the Paladin’s extra healing helps too.

    * Rangers have an interesting time of it. Melee rangers do ok, but less well then rogues, but archery rangers will have trouble staying out of melee. In a 2 man game, I admit I would probably suggest that any time you’re thinking Ranger, a Rogue would be better, but I’m sure there’s an exception I haven’t thought of.

    * Wizards are hugely build dependant. AoE wizards can deal with minions, but then they die. However, wizards who concentrate on area control (with summoned effects) can really rock out.

    * Solos will kill you, even if the math of the encounter is theoretically fair. A lot of the MM Solos have abilities that effectively keep at least one person at bay or make it hard for them to use their abilities well, and with 2 men you can’t afford that.

    * Similarly, monsters with immediate and interrupt abilities will be more potent, since the group probably won’t end up triggerign them more than once anyway.

    * Unless you really like hirelings or explicitly want to play two characters, I’d leave them out, but instead take a much more free hand with introducing situational allies.

    * This is advice I give for groups of any size: Make the base unit of success for skill challenges a function of your table size, so 2 successes shoudl be enough to either finish a quick challenge or move a larger challenge forward.

    * More fights with tactical goals that can be measured in some way other than “Kill that guy”. Getting away, providing distractions and other urban adventure staples are all the more useful with 2 people.

    * Similarly, keep the intimidation rules in mind. For a small group, using intimidate on bloodied foes is hugely potent.

  54. I have run and played in some 2 player games (we view them as Fahfrd and the Grey Mouser games) and they work really well, but it defintely takes a little tuning. Lots of good advice so far, so I’ll just throw in a little more.

    * Warlocks have a rough time of it (as to Witch Doctors, for the record) since they really need someone to keep the heat off them, and in a 2 player game, that’s hard. Wizards are in a similar boat, but they tend to have slightly better ACs and seem to have more workarounds (Pushs, movement and such)

    * Healing Surges are like gold, and you definitely want to keep track of where your guys will get them, especially if you have no cleric/warlord/paladin. As noted, multiclassing is a good way to pick some up (and generally, giving a free multiclassing feat to each player is not necessarily a bad thing). Potions help too, but I find them rough to keep track of, and weirdly leveled as items.

    * Warlords seem to suffer a little (except perhaps when paired with rogues) because position stunts carry less weight with fewer allies.

    * On the other hand, while you would expect Defenders to be less useful (since taunt i les central) the fighter and paladin really shine because of their secondary abilities. Fighter’s all around awesomeness really shows, and the Paladin’s extra healing helps too.

    * Rangers have an interesting time of it. Melee rangers do ok, but less well then rogues, but archery rangers will have trouble staying out of melee. In a 2 man game, I admit I would probably suggest that any time you’re thinking Ranger, a Rogue would be better, but I’m sure there’s an exception I haven’t thought of.

    * Wizards are hugely build dependant. AoE wizards can deal with minions, but then they die. However, wizards who concentrate on area control (with summoned effects) can really rock out.

    * Solos will kill you, even if the math of the encounter is theoretically fair. A lot of the MM Solos have abilities that effectively keep at least one person at bay or make it hard for them to use their abilities well, and with 2 men you can’t afford that.

    * Similarly, monsters with immediate and interrupt abilities will be more potent, since the group probably won’t end up triggerign them more than once anyway.

    * Unless you really like hirelings or explicitly want to play two characters, I’d leave them out, but instead take a much more free hand with introducing situational allies.

    * This is advice I give for groups of any size: Make the base unit of success for skill challenges a function of your table size, so 2 successes shoudl be enough to either finish a quick challenge or move a larger challenge forward.

    * More fights with tactical goals that can be measured in some way other than “Kill that guy”. Getting away, providing distractions and other urban adventure staples are all the more useful with 2 people.

    * Similarly, keep the intimidation rules in mind. For a small group, using intimidate on bloodied foes is hugely potent.

  55. The double-tag minions is a fantastic trick and one that seems to work really well at the table.

    I also have experimented with tougher minions, with a bit of built in damage resistance (say, 5 points per tier) so that it at least takes a substantial hit to drop one, and otherwise you don’t bother counting it.

  56. The double-tag minions is a fantastic trick and one that seems to work really well at the table.

    I also have experimented with tougher minions, with a bit of built in damage resistance (say, 5 points per tier) so that it at least takes a substantial hit to drop one, and otherwise you don’t bother counting it.

  57. The person who wants to do the Intimidation bit in combat will want racial bonuses and/or skill focus to pull it off with a decent chance of success. It’s awesome, but you can’t half-ass it or it’s seldom worth the standard action.

    (Hmmm, a very scary Dragonborn Warlord or Warlock character idea is forming…)

  58. The person who wants to do the Intimidation bit in combat will want racial bonuses and/or skill focus to pull it off with a decent chance of success. It’s awesome, but you can’t half-ass it or it’s seldom worth the standard action.

    (Hmmm, a very scary Dragonborn Warlord or Warlock character idea is forming…)

  59. I have only run it with three players using published material, but I think the principles I employed are the same. The trick I found was to script out the encounters in rounds and to give the players obvious terrain-based tactical options they could employ.

    WIth the rounds, I stagger the threat so that they don’t get overwhelmed. I also leverage lots of paper tigers, er, minions. WIth the terrain stuff, sometimes it is letting them utilize choke points and things like pits, fire, and anything else I can think of.

    I also found that using skill challenges to let them set encounters in their favor worked rather nicely (like setting up an ambush).

  60. I have only run it with three players using published material, but I think the principles I employed are the same. The trick I found was to script out the encounters in rounds and to give the players obvious terrain-based tactical options they could employ.

    WIth the rounds, I stagger the threat so that they don’t get overwhelmed. I also leverage lots of paper tigers, er, minions. WIth the terrain stuff, sometimes it is letting them utilize choke points and things like pits, fire, and anything else I can think of.

    I also found that using skill challenges to let them set encounters in their favor worked rather nicely (like setting up an ambush).

  61. I have only run it with three players using published material, but I think the principles I employed are the same. The trick I found was to script out the encounters in rounds and to give the players obvious terrain-based tactical options they could employ.

    WIth the rounds, I stagger the threat so that they don’t get overwhelmed. I also leverage lots of paper tigers, er, minions. WIth the terrain stuff, sometimes it is letting them utilize choke points and things like pits, fire, and anything else I can think of.

    I also found that using skill challenges to let them set encounters in their favor worked rather nicely (like setting up an ambush).

  62. I have only run it with three players using published material, but I think the principles I employed are the same. The trick I found was to script out the encounters in rounds and to give the players obvious terrain-based tactical options they could employ.

    WIth the rounds, I stagger the threat so that they don’t get overwhelmed. I also leverage lots of paper tigers, er, minions. WIth the terrain stuff, sometimes it is letting them utilize choke points and things like pits, fire, and anything else I can think of.

    I also found that using skill challenges to let them set encounters in their favor worked rather nicely (like setting up an ambush).

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