D & D: Well, That Was a Slaughter

The level 1 to 30 D & D 4e campaign Greg and I started last week has proved… difficult. Our intrepid adventurers handily took on the set of Fell Taints (tee hee) they first set out for, despite the whirlwinds and strangely difficult terrain in the big room.

On the second excursion, though, the four grumpy adventurers found themselves up against their most difficult encounter: a young black dragon. …In a small room. …With a pit in the middle. Major advantage to the dragon’s breath and fear weapons.

They fought valiantly, but ended up as tasty dragon snacks.

Turns out they were mere appetizers for the main course. The dragon had scooted himself to a strange, cross-shaped area while the four replacements were being rallied. Three of the four went in hoping the fourth would die, as he had an annoying tendency to shout out his status in the third person and name his actions. “LO-KAG DOESN’T FEEL WELL!”

Unfortunately, LO-KAG! was the one who kept the dragon at bay, so when he went down, the gig was up.

The last woman standing–a bard depleted of healing powers–dodged fairly well for a little gnome weighed down by chainmail and a shield, but the dragon ultimately peeled open her mail like a tin can and ate her, too.

Next Moves

Yeah, so that didn’t go well. Greg and I were pretty frustrated after the second failure with our new characters. We’d deliberately picked classes we’d never played before, so we ended up with a bard, a warden, a monk, and a seeker.

Combat was slowed by unfamiliarity and the fact that we were each playing two characters. Lots of page flipping went on, but that was fine with us.

After LO-KAG! and crew were slaughtered in the two-hour battle (ugh), we opted to keep the same characters and reroll the encounter. Our 4th level combat for this level will be something with lower defenses. My little bard and seeker couldn’t hit the dragon for shit, what with the dragon’s defenses requiring d20 rolls of 16 and above in several cases.

The room generation is certainly working, though. Here’s what we’re doing.

Room Generation

First, roll a d4 to determine how many areas/rooms there are. Then roll a d10 on the following table for each room to determine the shapes:

Die Value Area Shape
1 4×4 square
2 6×6 square
3 8×8 square
4 10×10 square
5 6×8
6 6×10
7 10×16 (this is really big)
8 4-wide T
9 4-wide cross
10 4-wide square donut

Determine what complications are in each room. For each room, roll a d20 and match it to the table below:

Die Value Area Shape
1-4 None
5-6 Difficult yerrain
7-8 Pit
9-10 Pillars/trees
11-15 Trap/hazard (pick a level of difficulty as desired)
16 Teleporters
17 Whirlwinds
18 Font of Power (random)
19 Cave slime
20 Choke frost

It’s working quite well. We haven’t scrapped a room yet, although the tight squeeze definitely contributed to the first team’s failure again the dragon. Our very first combat (against the fell taints… tee hee) consisted of a 10×16 room and a 6×8 room, and since the 10×16 feels very big for a standard 4-on-4 combat, we put the 6×8 (with its whirlwinds) inside the 10×16.

The second team’s dragon combat location had a hidden trap in it that Greg and I randomly determined the location of. We counted the number of squares in the room, and as the characters and dragon moved around, we rolled dice for the probability that they’d land on the trap. If you have 72 unvisited squares in the room, the process for moving people looked something like:

  1. Move the character or dragon X numbers of spaces. Let’s say it was 5 squares.
  2. Roll 2d10 (percentile dice). If you get a number larger than 72, roll again until you get 72 or below.
  3. If you get 1-5, you’ve found the trap in one of those squares. Set it off and watch her cry.
  4. If you get 6-72, mark off the 5 squares in that character’s path as “no trap”. We used a wet erase marker to put dots on our Chessex combat map.
  5. On the next move, you now only have 67 (72 – 5) squares untouched, so your percentile roll must be below that.

I have never gotten good at probability and have always managed to muddle most situations where probabilities are being calculated, so Greg and I probably spent 10 minutes arguing whether this method was valid and would actually get us a trap at any point.

Turns out we didn’t find the trap before everyone died, so our method is unverified. Probability folks, does that math work?

So far, the setup is fun and interesting, especially with LO-KAG! along. I’m not much of a strategist, but getting to decide the enemies’ actions along with the characters is proving pretty awesome. “Yup, sorry babe, the dragon’s going to go after LO-KAG!. He’s the most annoying.”

Because, really. “LO-KAG TAKES ON THE FORM OF WINTER’S HERALD!” He may have to die each combat.

One Comment

  • locallunatic

    That math works if everything starts outside of the area, otherwise you need to take into account starting spaces and movement to said starting spots. The thing is it’s slow. You start off with a 28% chance of having to re-roll and it only gets worse as you mark spaces. Instead you may want to try writing a basic HTML page with a generated table of spaces that picks the square with the trap (say using an array of booleans that maps to the table) then click on the squares in said table to call a function that will then mark the square with an X for no trap or set the background color red for trap. If written correctly then this page will handle such situations for whatever input dimensions you want. You could even do it as input size, generate table, mark squares that are no trap (like starting places of monsters/characters), and then pick from the remaining for where the trap is. In fact this sounds like an interesting enough problem that I may get started on a version now (though drunk typos will no doubt be a problem).