In the future, if we could get feedback in before the day before the next session, that would be helpful to me. As a whole, the earlier it happens the better, because it opens the door to discussion and potential avenues the party may go (e.g. recruiting others to help them) and lets me prepare for it.
Please ensure your characters are fully
updated to level 3 before the session starts tomorrow.
I think we might have treated the rope obstacle a little more cautiously than it truly warranted given its apparently low difficulty, but that was not immediately evident and it's best to be cautious around 200 ft drops.
Given that a 200ft. drop at this level is probably death for any of you (save maybe
Phaedra when fused), being careful was good. I appreciated the problem solving applied (e.g. tying a rope around people). The DCs involved were indeed quite low, but this is not the most graceful party. Taking 10s was a good idea.
The fight was a really tough one, and it was evident from the beginning that it would be. We were outnumbered, what, three to one? That the flunkies had evasion suggests that they were our level, too. If it were not for our high opening Intimidate checks, and hoping to make something of that, I'm not sure I would have supported going on the offensive. Even with that, I think we got three big breaks our way in the fight (neatly enough each PC contributing one), lack of any of which would have lost us the fight.
The fight as set up was intended to be extremely difficult and likely to result in a TPK if you simply charged in trying to kick in the door. At that point they’d had minutes to gather as many people as they felt they needed, heal, and prepare for your attack. As such, charging in given those odds did have a high probability of a TPK. You were taking a number of separated encounters and facing them all at once (reminds me of a certain fight in Opar).
First was Kari getting missed by the leader's readied shot and getting off a blast that killed two of them. I could tell that that readied shot was coming and did everything I could to make it miss. Somehow I can't see any of the enemy breaking and running if I'd followed up the Intimidate checks by bursting out and urgh-fizzling, but on the other hand getting several enemies from full to dead was a key opportunity to hammer the checks home.
You did indeed catch a break on this. As it was that action took out an array of enemies even beyond those Kari dropped and substantially changed the outcome.
(I should say also that I appreciated that that social/combat combo punch had an impact, DM)
I try to work in player actions as best I can, providing the benefit of the doubt whenever possible. I’m glad you appreciate it.
Second was Alfie landing the tanglefoot. Given that it hit the leader on both attack and damage it was a big debuff and I think it was probably the only reason Phae was still standing for the third big break, which was Phae managing to knock the leader down with a crit on her last-gasp attack.
The tanglefoot bag definitely saved you some damage in missed attacks. Gold was intentionally the most dangerous single enemy on the board, and debuffing her was not a poor choice.
Once the leader went down, finally getting the wererat was less a lucky break than a predictable result of throwing Reflex save after Reflex save at her. All I have at this level is a hammer, but it's a big fucking hammer and, as Kari remarked IC, it only takes one missed dodge.
You do indeed carry a pretty big stick – and good thing. Wererat damage reduction is a real danger at this level, especially given your lack of a weapon wielding frontliner.
Incidentally, if Phae had gone down without taking the leader with her, Kari was going to try to strike a ceasefire.
That would have been interesting to see play out, and I’m sort of sad we didn’t get to see it.
I will say that it was a mistake for Kari to use his claws at all this fight. I mostly had providing flanking in mind, but I'm not sure the flanking bonus panned out and turned any misses into hits, while it definitely did cost some blasting. And of course I didn't hit the broad side of a barn myself :p Our positioning was also fairly tight in the early rounds in terms of minimizing exposure, but not as tight in the second half of the fight. It might have been better to form up side to side - going for flanking when there's multiple meleers on each side typically ends up with both sides flanked (ABAB...). AAA might have been stronger for us given that their flanking came with extra d6s.
I agree that Kari going for the claws didn’t prove to be a particularly useful action given his low attack bonus and large number of spell slots on the day, though setting up flanks for Phaedra (who’s attack bonus is very low for this level) definitely helps out. She’s a huge fat bundle of hit points, but those saying that a synthesis completely replaces a barbarian or a fighter (either of whom could easily be swinging at +8 for 2d6+6 or better) is something of a joke to me. Both would seem to have a place (especially as without our house rules she’d not also be summoning).
You’re right on your late round positioning following part. Letting the two rogues apply consistent flanks was a big reason they were able to put out just that much damage on later rounds, especially as my dice got hot.
The cut ropes is an interesting twist but I'm not too worried. I think we should be able to go out the secret door we failed to open in the beginning? And our new friend* would know where it is from this side. I'm also cool with just fighting our way down into the dungeon and seeing what we find.
I don’t recall any doors you were ultimately unable to open, but having someone that has been inside the Crow that could give you details as to its layout, the number of people within, and likely dangers is quite useful. It’s a shame you didn’t have anyone that could have provided that kind of intelligence before you staged your assault.
We are a small party. Do we want to think about bringing company in the future?
As in other players or NPCs? Either can probably be arranged.
That was a pretty intense game. The rope navigation puzzle wasn't immediately obvious, but not too difficult once the dice cooperated. Obviously, the big fight was the main feature of the session.
You've said more than once you thought we were all dead once we charged in. I have to admit, for a moment there, I thought the same. It was definitely won by the skin of our teeth, kinda literally in Phae's case. Honestly, given our resources at the time, I'm struggling to think of an alternative we could have done. I was on my very last summon, had no offensive spells and only one spell slot left. They were far better prepared for ranged combat than we were, with only Alfie's sling and an unfused Phaedra's crossbow, maybe a couple of cantrips. I feel like getting into a shooting match with them, even from cover, would only have resulted in us getting slowly worn down.
You are proceeding forward from the assumption that combat was the only viable outcome. You could have tried to strike a deal with Gold. You could have tried to turn them against each other. You might have continued to make threats. You could have withdrawn and come back with more allies. There were options available to you that did not involve having to fight your way through their entire ambush. I’m not going to force you to take that path, but it is open.
The Intimidate checks definitely saved our asses in that one, even if it led to longer term problems later. Kind of a recurring theme for adventurers everywhere, isn't it?
Every action has its consequences. Frankly, as a whole, I’ve been pretty mild on this, e.g. wandering bloodied and beaten through the streets with bloodied and beaten others in your custody, murdering people in the street and making no effort to report it to authorities, and so forth.
I really thought we were about to TPK there, and I'm glad we didn't, because, of the PCs, I think I would have been the biggest contributor to putting us in a position to get TPK'd.
This fight was not really Alfie’s to shine in, for sure, though a big part of that has to do with the nature of being low level and another big part of it has to do with being a more generalized character. Alfie doesn’t have many options open to her, and mechanically doesn’t have a big stick she brings to the fight in the same way that Phaedra or Kari does (especially given their relatively high degree of mechanical optimization). I’m hopeful that level 3 will provide her with some new toys to play with to better carve out her place.
Despite Coriat's charitable assessment, I made at least two huge blunders that session. The first was going after Blondie too soon instead of being patient and waiting until we'd cleared out the mooks. I'd thought that if we could get her out of the fight, they'd scatter, but once the wererats emerged, it was clear that wasn't the case.
Splitting attention between multiple foes almost never works out.