Tuesday, February 21, 2012


DnD groups wipe a lot less than groups in WOW and other MMOs.  In an MMO death is, of course, irritating, but rarely more than that.  In DnD it is usually game over - the lich the party was hoping to defeat finishes his doomsday spell and the world is covered in eternal darkness.  Or a plague of zombies, or the return of the Black Dragon elder, or whatever crazy thing the players are trying to avert.  On Sunday my DnD group wiped.

It was a close thing at the end.  One of our party members had died having been bleeding out on the ground for 11 rounds, the second was unconscious and about to die and I was the third.  I shot my bow at the Ghost we were fighting, the last enemy left alive, and although the die seemed desperate to roll a 20 and give me the critical I so desperately needed it did not stick.  I stuck two arrows into the ghost for 13 damage but he had 18 HP left and he effortlessly dispatched me.  Even had I won both of my friends would have perished and I would have been alone in a dangerous underground set of twisting tunnels with small prospect of ever getting back to the surface alive; nonetheless it would have been VICTORY!

Afterwards we talked about the enemies and why we had lost.  It turns out that the adventure we are running uses some classic monsters and some of its own; unfortunately the authors seem to have questionable ideas about how to build appropriate enemies.  A normal level 10 Elite monster has about 200 HP and the two we were fighting had 184 HP and the insubstantial quality - they take half damage, rounded down, so they had about twice as many HP as they were supposed to.  I honestly can't fathom the insubstantial mechanic.  When a monster takes half damage from absolutely everything it adds a lot of mechanical annoyance but isn't at all different from just doubling its HP aside from a few niche abilities that ignore insubstantial.  The real issue is that when building monsters people seem to think that monsters with the insubstantial quality ought to have huge HP numbers and/or regenerate.  Insubstantial ends up being a completely overpowered ability because they simply don't think that taking half damage matters.

It does!  Taking half damage matters!  Get it through your heads!

We aren't playing any sort of campaign though but rather just a series of dungeon hack adventures.  In this case we are doing 5 man dungeons with just 3 people because the dungeons were simply too trivial with 5 - we were going 17 fights between rests and that is quite ridiculous.  With our current 3 man party we go about 4 fights between rests and we actually use our daily powers regularly.  This makes the game feel a lot better because choosing dailies is actually quite relevant when you get to use them every couple of fights instead of less than once a level!  Given that we will just respawn our group and keep on going.  Our DM has informed us that we don't have to refight the encounter that beat us (though it would be easy as hell the second time through!) but we get no experience for it.  Tough but fair, we did die after all!

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