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Lesson Learned: Try to Keep to Level + 2

Level 6 Harpy: Initiative +5, HP 71, AC 20, Fort 17, Ref 17, Will 19, Claw +11 1d8+2

Level 3 Elite Harpy: Initiative +2, HP 90, AC 17, Fort 14, Ref 14, Will 16, Claw +8 1d8+1

So it would have had more hit points, but been much easier to damage. I think that's the way to go. So note to myself: if I don't want to have ten monsters in every encounter, scale 'em down and make 'em elites.

-The Gneech

EDIT: Followup — I have retooled all of the encounters I had already prepped so that no single critter is higher than 4th level (although several of them are elites). However, by the time the characters get through what I have prepared, they will probably be knocking on the door of 2nd level ... so for the parts I hadn't finished yet, I'll have to start using 2nd level assumptions. This also means I need to go back and add a little more treasure, I expect, but that's okay. There are a handful of "caches" about the island that can have a bauble or two added easily enough.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 13th, 2009 02:38 pm (UTC)
Yikes! Yeah, Level 6 vs. Level 1 PCs = bad things. :) That's a flaw in the XP system that needs to be made more clear in the DMG. At least it worked out in the end!
Sep. 13th, 2009 04:00 pm (UTC)
We still killed one and bloodied another!
Sep. 13th, 2009 04:15 pm (UTC)
Just with an eyeball gauge, the two are almost the same... except that the level 3 elite won't hit as often. That's what makes the real difference; the hit points are balanced out by the defenses and the initiative is a minor point at best. The fact that the beastie isn't hitting as often is what swings the odds.

Admittedly, the lower defenses are going to change the feel of the encounter. The party will hit more often, which means feelings of frustration aren't as likely to crop up - it takes a lot longer for alarm bells to start ringing for the players if they're doing something.

Still, don't automatically throw out the idea of a hugely powerful opponent... once in a while. A single level 6 or 7 monster (non-elite, non-solo) makes for a nasty, nasty encounter for a first-level party, maybe even (almost) as nasty as a level 1 or 2 solo. This vastly expands the DM's options. It also allows for a quick way of showing the party "look how far you've come" - a single level 6 critter will severely test them at first level, but when they're level 7, a half-a-dozen of those same beasties are normal!

(And contrariwise, you can still use those level 1 and 2 beasties - they can make interesting alternatives to minions. A level 6 minion is going to hit harder and more often, but it's brittle - one good hit and it's gone. The low-level critters are more ineffectual, but more durable. And for even more utility, you can mix them.)
Sep. 13th, 2009 04:40 pm (UTC)
Well yeah, "boss" encounters are another animal entirely. But in the case of these harpies, that wasn't the intention — mechanically, this was supposed to be a pretty straightforward encounter, just with a lot of flashy eye-candy (and/or mind-candy) going on in the background. Start the campaign off with a bang, so to speak (or at least a sickening crunch).

-The Gneech
Sep. 13th, 2009 05:00 pm (UTC)
I dare you to have a pie on a spring in one of those caches. And just when the party is having their WTF moment, say "Whoops! Wrong adventure notes."
Sep. 13th, 2009 06:48 pm (UTC)
I have had games where that kind of thing would happen ... early on there was a secret panel in a desk revealing a note saying there was nothing behind the secret panel.

But not this one. :)

Sep. 14th, 2009 01:25 pm (UTC)
Heh..I haven't done any tabletop RPG's ever since my little geek squad from grade school dissolved upon entering high school. Ah, nostalgia, thou art sweeter than the caress of a warrior, more bitter than the kiss of a Lamia..(sniff)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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