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Maelstrom
06-20-2008, 05:24 AM
You remember the whiney little guys that just about every 1st level D&D has to kill about 20 of to get to 2nd level? Yeah, you know the ones that fall over when you look at em right, but if they get lucky they can cream you with a couple shots?

They're back, and they are vicious.

The characters:

Tiefling Warlord: Brand new of the brand new (as far as core goes). This was my character, and he was built around tactics, and dang good at it. He has an intelligence of 18, and uses his keen tactical mind to lead the other PCs in battle. He feels exactly like what you'd think a part-demon battle lord would feel. He inspired his allies with his commanding presence, gave them opportunities to work together, and stayed right in the thick of things. In short, this character is really cool... haven't had so much fun with a single PC build in my life.

Dragonborn Paladin: This holy warrior lent a powerful presence to combat and non-combat alike. His companions were in awe of his ability to control the battlefield with radiant light and electrical breath. At the same time, he also aided his companions with healing and inspiration.

Dwarven Ranger: Yes, thats right, this earth dweller has chosen the path of a wanderer. His Battleaxe and hammer cut through opponents quickly, but his armor was too weak for the front line. His dwarven resilience came through to keep him standing and fighting despite being a constant target by his enemies.

Elven Ranger: Another ranger with a totally different style and feel. This one was light and his feet and Fast... his arrows pierced many hides with an amazing accuracy and deadly precision. He could easily dance out of the way of the most determined attacker. I wonder if he even got hit once?

Dwarven Fighter: A brute with a massive Maul, this Dwarf stood her ground, locking enemies up with a presence that was impossible for them to ignore. She became the Warlord's right hand ally, landing powerful blows as the Warlord provided openings for her. As has been mentioned elsewhere, Fighters are really sticky, making their opponents focus on them... or else bad things happen.

Adventure Highlights

In the first encounter, the intrepid adventurers were ambushed by kobold minions. 4 of these marauders came from behind rocks and trees and attacked the party. This felt like the classic battle between 1st level characters and kobolds, only the PCs were a whole lot cooler. We quickly dispatched a few of them, charging boldly forward. But this was just the setup.

After our PCs were drawn out by the fodder, more Kobolds ambushed us: two had large Dragon scales they used as shields, and a third had a number of flasks it launched with a sling. Caught by surprise, the Dwarven Ranger was pelted by a vial of sticky substance which locked him to the ground. Vulnerable in front of the party, both of the Kobold shield bearers charged him, hurting him pretty bad. Then the slinger hit him again with another vial, this one filled with burning liquid.

The PCs were able to best the kobolds, but it wasn't easy, and it required some of us to use action points, though none of us used dailies. The shield bearers were resilient and were hard to hit, so they lasted in a full fray with the PCs for a couple rounds against 5 PCs, but finally fell. The slinger got away after seeing how bad his odds were. Licking our wounds and tending to the injured dwarf, we didn't pursue.

After this initial encounter, the PCs arrived at a village, talked with several villagers in the local inn about strange local happenings, and then had an uneventful night sleep (though the DM made us make some rolls to keep us on our toes). We talked to the town leader, who offered a reward to find and stop the kobold marauders, who had been cutting off their trade with other towns. The players agreed and were off again.

While on the road, the PCs were ambushed again, failing miserably to notice something was amiss. This time the players met more of the shield bearers, a kobold skirmisher, and a wyrmpriest. They got a surprise round in which they moved to engage us, focusing on the Dwarven Ranger again, who happened to be closest target. The kobolds all bested our initiative as well, so even after the surprise round they got another free round of attacks, and they made good use of it.

Then the PCs reacted. In one round, the paladin breathed on a few of the kobolds, then used his daily ability on the closest for a powerful radiant blow. The Dwarven Ranger broke free and charged after the Wyrmpriest, while the Warlord and Fighter entered toe to toe with the kobolds and the Elf laid down covering fire (missing terribly with his daily).

The Wyrmpriest led his kobolds well, giving them the ability to shift around the battlefield outside their turn and receive temporary hitpoints. When he wasn't doing that, he was pummeling the party with magic, retreating steadily from the angry Dwarven Ranger (who played out and acted much like a 3.5 barbarian).

In the end, with the use of a lot of our daily resources, the PCs again prevailed to search the bodies and claim our bounty.

Final Assessment

Of the group of players playing, only myself and one other had had a taste of 4e, and then it was with pre-fabricated characters. The DM himself had never played. Two of the others were well versed from following its progress closely, but the final one was completely new to the system.

Despite this, and the fact we constantly had to stop for a second to look up something or other (which the DM enforced so we could really learn the system while we were playing, instead of winging it), all of the above battles and encounters took up only 3 hours.

From my perspective, this was probably one of the most fun sessions I've played in. Of course this is my first time playing in years (I've been the DM for the most part). On the feel of 4e, this was much different this time, because we each created our own character (except for the new player, who used a pre-made PC), and that alone made a big difference. On top of knowing about the tactical feel and rapid pace of 4e, I added the feeling of ownership of a PC, which to me is the D&D experience.

history_crusader
06-20-2008, 09:03 AM
I'm the elven ranger, and I have to say. Missing with your daily is frustrating. It's your most awesome power, dealing tons of damage, but if you miss, it's still gone. It would be nice if some of the Ranger's powers were reliable.

On the other hand, minions provide an important detail point: Never bother with anything more than your daily powers against them, since they've only got one hitpoint.

I did like having a lot of powers to use. Every turn it was, "which power do I want to use now?"

Also, I did get hit, once, by a kobold javelin, in the first encounter. In the second one, I didn't touched at all.

MooseAlmighty
06-20-2008, 12:46 PM
Nice write-up! I hope you continue it. (is there a space on these forums for campaign journals?)

Tell your DM to check out the new Dragon article for a bunch of new kobolds to terrorize you! I love the vermin handler and rat master :)

Engar
06-20-2008, 12:58 PM
I think your write-up goes the furthest of those I have read toward swaying me on 4e. I might take another look at it.

Maelstrom
06-20-2008, 05:25 PM
Nice write-up! I hope you continue it. (is there a space on these forums for campaign journals?)

Tell your DM to check out the new Dragon article for a bunch of new kobolds to terrorize you! I love the vermin handler and rat master :)
I will, but unfortunately we play only about once a month. I hope others will post their AARs as well!

Yeah, I'll have to look at that Dragon article... sounds pretty fun.



I think your write-up goes the furthest of those I have read toward swaying me on 4e. I might take another look at it.

Its a lot different in play than it sounds on paper... you really have to experience it to understand.

tesral
06-21-2008, 12:42 AM
They're back, and they are vicious.


When did they leave, or become less than vicious? I have used Kobolds to frustrate and and put the fear of ghodd in the PCs for decades. Played right the little beasts have always been equlizers, played wrong, sword fodder.

ronpyatt
06-21-2008, 09:30 AM
When did they leave, or become less than vicious? I have used Kobolds to frustrate and and put the fear of ghodd in the PCs for decades. Played right the little beasts have always been equlizers, played wrong, sword fodder.

I think it was explained that they were played right (the first time), and the game went very well. I did not get the impression that they were criticizing your games.

tesral
06-21-2008, 01:33 PM
I think it was explained that they were played right (the first time), and the game went very well. I did not get the impression that they were criticizing your games.

Note the below


You remember the whiney little guys that just about every 1st level D&D has to kill about 20 of to get to 2nd level? Yeah, you know the ones that fall over when you look at em right, but if they get lucky they can cream you with a couple shots?

That rather says until now Kobolds were worthless. Like I said, since when? Back? Kobolds never left.

Dimthar
06-21-2008, 01:54 PM
When did they leave, or become less than vicious? I have used Kobolds to frustrate and and put the fear of ghodd in the PCs for decades. Played right the little beasts have always been equlizers, played wrong, sword fodder.

Using the above premise, One can conclude from Maelstrom report that 4E Kobolds are easier to play right or at least more to his liking.

Maelstrom,

Did your DM said if there was something in the 4E Books (DMG or MM) that helped him make the kobolds more challenging? Could it be just that he is now more experienced?

.

ronpyatt
06-21-2008, 01:58 PM
That rather says until now Kobolds were worthless. Like I said, since when? Back? Kobolds never left.Yes, it tells us their pre-4e games had kobold fodder, but it said nothing about your game. This is their game, and their first 4ed game was a good one. Why criticize their first game when it went so well? Are you just going to cut down 4ed every time someone wants to share a positive experience with it?

tesral
06-21-2008, 05:40 PM
Why criticize their first game when it went so well? Are you just going to cut down 4ed every time someone wants to share a positive experience with it?

Nooo, I just wondered when Kobolds got easy. Anything can be a challange in the right hands, and anything can be a push over mishandled.

Examples. A 6 year old girl, a wand of wonder, and a wizards house she knows and you don't. The party in question was led around to utter distraction. Never did corner the girl. She made their job (recover some things from the house) impossible. They, because she was a little girl, were unwilling to use deadly force, not that they ever got close enough to do so.

Counter Example: I had a Lich thrown at my large type character. Big bad nasty Lich. The DM let me close with him. I took the damage to grab him, threw him bodily into his minions, closed the door and sealed same. (Our job was to seal him in.) Boss fight over in three rounds and nearly no damage to us. He was stunned. But, he let me close with the caster. The point of minions is to stop the big ax wielding beast from closing with the caster. Badly handled encounter.

It has nothing to do with 4e. Just, when did Kobolds become pushovers?

nijineko
06-21-2008, 08:24 PM
i've had an entire party of pcs outmatched by a single kobold who played well and carefully. they never, ever, disrespected kobolds again. to this day, one player has a sincere respect for kobolds, as a result of that game. as the dm, i was the one playing the kobold in that particular instance. it's all in how they are played. ^^

nevertheless, i'm glad that you had a good experience with the game.

agoraderek
06-21-2008, 09:14 PM
Yes, it tells us their pre-4e games had kobold fodder, but it said nothing about your game. This is their game, and their first 4ed game was a good one. Why criticize their first game when it went so well? Are you just going to cut down 4ed every time someone wants to share a positive experience with it?

he didnt criticize their game. not in the least. he was simply coming to the defence of the lowly kobold.

the point is, and i think this is a net positive for 4e, now inexperienced dms have a mechanic to use (i.e. the rules for monsters in the MM) that dms had to intuit from the source material in earlier editions. the new dm's guide is a good resource, and the MM lays out tactics and whatnot earlier editions just alluded to. in earlier editions, in the hands of a dm that just saw "1-4 hp, low damage" in the monster decription for kobolds, they might dismiss them as useful and use them as fodder. in the hands of a more experienced dm, kobolds, with their innate intelligence, organizational skills (LAWFUL evil...), and generally sneaky natures, could give even higher level parties fits.

trust me, my beef with WotC is they made my 30 year old game completely obsolete without my having to suspend it for 6 months to change everything to the new system. no backwards compatability. its a good system, it just doesnt work for me at this time.

Dimthar
06-21-2008, 09:30 PM
I just wondered when Kobolds got easy. Anything can be a challange in the right hands, and anything can be a push over mishandled..... ...Just, when did Kobolds become pushovers?

Tesral, I think you answered your own question.

I do agree that any monster can be a challenge if handled properly . Now, the ability/skill to make such encounters challenging needs to be developed (unless you have a natural gift). Like most skills you can improve it by:

1) Experience (“Mas sabe el Diablo por Viejo, que por Diablo“)
2) Tribal knowledge passed on to you (PnPG forums are a good example)
3) Formal education (classes or books).

Personally I am interested to see if the 4E DMG and MM contributed to such a good playing experience. I would not rule that option out just because I happen to be the “Old Devil” of D&D. Still my guess is that #1 is the true reason.

.

ronpyatt
06-21-2008, 09:41 PM
he didnt criticize their game.
I was trying to convey that this was a pointless argument that is derailing the thread, but I failed and succeeded in helping derail this thread. My apologies for getting you involved.

agoraderek
06-21-2008, 10:44 PM
I was trying to convey that this was a pointless argument that is derailing the thread, but I failed and succeeded in helping derail this thread. My apologies for getting you involved.

no worries, and you did the same thing i did with the general 4e bashing give it a home.

i am happy that the 4e did help someone learn to use an iconic pest more effectively. i honestly don thtink 4e will help people be better players, but from what i've read, at least as far as effectively running encounters, i think 4e will do a very good job of helping new dms run a game that will be challenging and fun for their players.

Maelstrom
06-22-2008, 05:11 PM
*sigh*

Wow, this thread moved on over the weekend :)

My initial comment at the beginning was intended to draw the readers in by using a common stereotype of a classic D&D monster. Over my career I've also created some nasty kobolds in 3.5 and earlier just to keep the characters on their toes.

The stereotype that I was referring to was that Kobolds are great monsters to push up against fragile 1st level players due to their low hitpoints and general *according to stereotype*cowardice.

Kobolds in 3.5 could be given intelligence and tactics, given a few levels, nasty magic weapons (which I saw happen in one older module for 16th level characters... kobold with a arrow of human slaying or a wand of disintegration? Yuck!).



Did your DM said if there was something in the 4E Books (DMG or MM) that helped him make the kobolds more challenging? Could it be just that he is now more experienced?


These kobolds were stock kobolds from the 4e MM. Each type had characteristics that made them do their role well (stand up fighter, skirmisher, artillery, controller), so it made the feel of the battle that much better.

What I'm trying to make the point about is, that 4e just feels nice. Very smooth, streamlined, but still very interesting and challenging, right out of the gate with no modifications. Think about what a very experienced DM could do with this as a foundation... I don't think that you'll get it without giving it a fair trial with a reasonably good DM.

Grinnen Baeritt
06-22-2008, 06:40 PM
Any monster can be made effective...given the right enviroment and situation. Kobolds are a prime example... traps and using thier size to thier advantage.

I liked the write-up...BTW

My opinion of 4th Ed with respect to kobolds is that the Stats are far too tough... minions are ok (ish), but the stock ones given in the example adventure in the DMG are IMO far too tough.

I say this with respect to comparision to what has gone before... average Kobold 1st-2nd edition 1-4 hp...equated to -1 to hit, fourth edition 25-27... with +5 to +6 to hit!

It's now very rare that a character could possibly kill one with a single standard attack... a Magic-user had a roughly 50%chance of taking one of the old ones down with a magic-missile. (Automatic hit did 2-5 damage). But you rarely got more than a couple of xp for defeating them.

Now a good 1st level wizard (Int 18) using Magic Missile (admittedly now using a souped up to 2d4 +INT bonus) requires a MINIMUM of three missiles to kill one..AND needs to make attack rolls to do so.. it's a good job it's a "at will power...." because the wizard now only has a roughly 50-50 chance of actually hitting one... but you get 25 xp for a 1hp horde or 100 for the standard ones.

What I'm saying here is that the image of the "horde monster" has been souped over time to such an extend that "a cowardly nature, reliance of overwhelming numbers and traps" has largely been ignored in favour of making them a statistical balanced challenge...

Aidan
06-22-2008, 07:23 PM
Actually, magic missile is Int vs. Reflex, and those darn buggers are hard to hit with a magic missile. Ray of frost is the at-will power you want to use to take out a kobold. Learned the hard way.

Maelstrom
06-23-2008, 05:59 AM
Tell your DM to check out the new Dragon article for a bunch of new kobolds to terrorize you! I love the vermin handler and rat master :)

I just checked it out, and it is great!

http://www.wizards.com/dnd/files/dragon/364_Creature_Incarnations.pdf

Take a look at page 2 at the Kobold Victory Chart, absolutely hilarious. This is a random chart of what happens when a Kobold actually brings down an adventurer.

This is definitely going to my DM...