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Was ECL+? miscalculated?

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1 Was ECL+? miscalculated? on Sun Oct 02, 2011 10:21 am

based on 7x Level 13 PCs @ ECL+2, XP budget = 8,400 (7x 1,200)
1x elite Oni c/w 4 minions = 2,000
5x standard Oblivions = 5,000
1x standard Vortex = 400
4x minions = 1,400
total = 8,800 (which is ok)

but if u added elite templates, (elites cost double)
1x elite Oni c/w 4 minions = 2,000
5x elite Oblivions = 10,000
1x elite Vortex = 800
4x minions = 1,400
total = 14,200
divided by 7 PCs = slightly above 2,000
is essentially a level 18 encounter

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2 Re: Was ECL+? miscalculated? on Sun Oct 02, 2011 3:14 pm

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your question but the ECL was not miscalculated.

There was only 1 Elite and that was the Oni Spiritmaster.

ECL 2 (8800xp): 1 Vortex Wraith (Level 13 Soldier, 800xp), 5 Oblivion Wraith (Level 14 Brute, 5000xp) Oni Spiritmaster (Level 14 Elite Controller 2000xp), 4 Howling Spirits (Free), 4 Howling Spirits (1000xp)

The damage expressions were upgraded to MM3 and Monster Vault levels but essentially they are the same monsters.

An ECL +3 encounter would be 9800xp.



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3 Re: Was ECL+? miscalculated? on Sun Oct 02, 2011 5:58 pm

Thanks for the clarification, Raihan.
I don't usually snoop around the DMG and other non-player books unless something drastically fatal happens.
Just felt that if something gets upgraded, shouldn't the XP cost increase for the upgrade?
The monsters in the earlier books may have low damage, but were essentially designed for that level. They may deal less damage but will still pose a reasonable challenge in other areas. I just felt that upgrading them without cost actually imposes a higher challenge than what would have innitially been thought out to be.
Perhaps this could be something that can be taken into consideration in future games?

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4 Re: Was ECL+? miscalculated? on Mon Oct 03, 2011 2:51 am


I'll like to chip in my 2 cents bout the fight. It didn't seem very winnable to me, and I didn't feel like I had much options in the fight.

Just looking at the Oblivion Wraiths alone - having 50 constant aura damage and 5 high-damage attacks (totalling 25d12+25 worth of damage) potentially every couple of turns... perhaps the damage adjustments may have gone a bit off the curve? Let's consider the following factors:

1) we're mostly melee, and the map is small, as it's a small boat; as a result, we can't get out of the aura and have to eat the damage with little effort on the part of the wraiths..
2) the wraiths are insubstantial, which is balanced off by their lower HP, so it roughly works out the same - but it feels very different when our attacks ping them ineffectually.
3) we didn't have many options last night for suppressing the insubstantial or the regeneration, neither in terms of characters nor in terms of gear.
4) we couldn't heal easily, cos of the auras, so it's hard to turn the beat back and recover from the initial onslaught.

And all this is just from the wraiths alone; we hadn't factored in the other monsters or other conditions. You can imagine why, in my experience, it seemed like a pretty demoralizing fight, and victory didn't really seem like it was possible.

(For the record, all I did before I died was Assume Mountain Thunder Form, Mass Mark, Charge on the first round, and eat an OA along the way; I had to charge as I couldn't get to the oni normally, cos I was still slowed from the Lich King Rot. I dropped in the next round, despite my moderately OK defenses, high HP, and damage resistance, and all those abilities really bought was 3 rounds of Aketh not dying from the aura and ongoing damage (he was at -43 HP; in another 2 rounds, he would have hit -71, and be really dead.)

I hope I don't come across as being whinging here; that's not my intent. I'm just sharing my feedback as a player, and mostly, I'm thinking aloud to myself and sharing my musings.

I feel the high damage expressions for the monsters, and their ability to deny us from using our HP recovery resources, could have resulted in only one probable resolution for the fight... which we went through yesterday at the conclusion of our campaign.

As Mark said, it's something to think about in terms of balancing encounters for future games. It's definitely something I'll have to consider for my own games, and I'll run the tests about monster damage expressions and expected PC HP resources, just to learn a bit more bout encounter design.

Last edited by shao on Mon Oct 03, 2011 9:15 am; edited 1 time in total

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5 Re: Was ECL+? miscalculated? on Mon Oct 03, 2011 4:00 am

Hi Mark and Shao,

Thanks for your input and your time in writing these posts.

The damage values of creatures designed for MM3 (MM3) and Monster Vault (MV) are higher than those in publications before these releases. Many DM blogs and designers including the main guy who did MM3 recommend using this formula for the older books to keep combats tight, relevant and exciting. I have been using this "patch" ever since characters were level 4 and it has served my purposes well. There have been easy combats and hard ones... the fact is all monsters have been meticulously "patched" not just the ones in the last fight.

However, it is tricky to tweak these values for specific monsters with unique abilities and on occasion because I am just one dude and not a team of play testers, things do get skewered.

For example, the Oblivion Wraith's 5d12+12dmg recharge power [5,6] whilst sounding obscene is a direct copy of the Cyclops Crusher (MV). The Cyclops Crusher is a monster I have used when you guys were still at level 11 and fighting at the Temple of Sorbek. The aura damage whilst formidable is manageable considering there were 10 pots of gravespawn potion in the loot.

With the privilege of perfect hindsight, I would have tweaked the monster so that you can use healing surges in the aura so that PCs can recover from the early enemy momentum...

The decision to upgrade the damage values to MM3 and MV levels are my own. Other DMs should figure how they want their combats to play out in their campaigns.

Play testing every single altered monsters sounds like a fine idea but if you're planning 4-5 encounters games each week (for eight months, not counting Zaki's game) to last 15 hours of game play week in and week out as well as writing the actual story that would impact and immerse 8 disparate people is impossible to implement due to sheer time constraints. As a DM, after all other fundamental preparations are complete, you make your best estimation for creature damage values according to charts you have and do your counter-checking with books you own and get it printed 20 minutes before show time.

I am sorry and saddened by the party’s deaths probably more than any single player can be and I have offered you a chance to keep your characters through the Bride of Shadow’s Night Hag nightmare magic as fair recompense. This was after all what Saturday’s plot was about. Since, the players have chosen to let the characters die; there is nothing more I can do.

If an apology is what you want from me, you have it.



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6 Re: Was ECL+? miscalculated? on Mon Oct 03, 2011 5:10 am

Just providing feedback and concerns for considerations in future games.

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7 Re: Was ECL+? miscalculated? on Mon Oct 03, 2011 9:13 am

Hi Rai,

I didn't write this post to fish for an apology; I was just sharing my observations and feedback from across the table. Anyway, I don't think apologies are required.

Also, I'm sorry if I made you feel like I was second-guessing your decisions as DM in your campaign; I was just sharing my own thoughts on the subject of encounter design.

Thanks for running, and I'm sorry if I caused you any offense.


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