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July 22nd, 2010

Fictionlet

“It is one of the great tragedies of my life,” Greg announced, “that nobody has ever asked me, ‘Would you do it for a Scooby-Snack?’.”

“Well what do you expect?” said Brigid. “Anybody who knows you would realize you wouldn’t do it without at least flowers, dinner, and two excruciating weeks of romantic poetry back and forth.”

Greg blinked. “I think we may be talking about different things,” he said.

-The Gneech

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Originally published at gneech.com. You can comment here or there.

CR 11 Monsters. Or Lack Thereof.

Noodling around with some ideas about where to go with the Pathfinder campaign, but I've hit a pretty big conceptual wall here. The characters are 11th level. They now slap around fire giants. There's not a lot of precooked on-level stuff for them to go up against, particularly that isn't of the "demon" or "mountain-sized" category. If I expand to all of the Dungeons and Dragons official monsters, the choice grows somewhat, but not as much as I'd like. That means I'm probably going to be doing a lot of refitting and class-levelling to make viable threats.

The harder part is learning to think in "high level" ways. The heroes have access to mass fly and have enough financial resources that they could get scrolls of just about any spell they might want to cast. "Your character dies" no longer means "roll up a new one," but instead means, "the cleric has to get over to you by the end of the next round in order to raise you without penalty." Fighting a roomful of brutes with a cleric and possibly an archer in the back isn't going to cut it any more; they need adversaries that are worthy of them, and adventure locales that are more exciting than a 30' x 50' room with some random clutter to make difficult terrain.

I do have some ideas, and a suitably epic long-term story arc, but it's the nitty-gritty of turning it into individual sessions that is the real challenge. I also have the entire 3.x-era run of Dungeon magazine and several Goodman Dungeon Crawl Classics to look to for inspiration, but those are only so much help. I tend to like my fantasy grounded in the realistic, even when there are elves and orcs and dragons, but when you reach this level, D&D's already troubled relationship with "naturalistic" fantasy starts to seriously fall apart. The system assumes, almost requires, that you start going all extraplanar, as the mortal world has just become too prosaic for such mighty heroes. At this point it's expected that you'll take flying ships to Asgard, or pop over to the City of Brass on the Elemental Plane of Fire to seek an audience with the King of the Efreeti. I, on the other hand, am still working in the mindset of coping with monsters rampaging the countryside. Granted, the monsters are giants now instead of hobgoblins, which does up the ante a bit, but it's still a quantum jump in scenario design that mentally I'm not quite prepared to make.

-The Gneech

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