Been prepping the Blue Box lately – or rather, the Cook/Marsh version thereof.
The High Concept is that this powerful group is on a delve that Goes Terribly Wrong: they get stranded on a much deeper level than they’d anticipated, a Horrible Monster strikes from ambush and decimates half the party in the surprise round, and now it’s a scramble to safety. (Yes, it’s contrived, but it’s basically a one-shot.)
But all I’ve really done so far is design an adventuring party and make a bunch of mistakes in doing so.
- Creating Level 9 pre-gens is loads faster than in D&D 3e, but it’s still tedious.
- It’s even more tedious to create their attendant mid-level retainers and kit them out with magical gear.
- 4 PC’s + 3 retainers each = 16 characters in the party = real slow combat rounds.
- Giving retainers interesting magical items really gives them personality, but that’s a bad thing! Personality distracts from the unfamiliar PC pre-gens. Plus the magic items make them mechanically complex.
- Choosing the Best Monsters Ever is difficult! Contriving a way to fit them all into a dungeon is hard.
- I feel bad I’m not including Wilderness Travel or Dominion play, because I want to road-test those rules too. But there’s only so much a guy can do.
That said: a party of four Name Level PC’s can defeat a 10 HD Red Dragon in three rounds, although they do get banged up pretty badly in the process. I’ve designed a pretty nasty Beholder encounter, we’ll have to see if it fares any better against the full group. (I suspect the Mind Flayers wouldn’t even last three rounds.)
EDIT: It took too long to play out the whole battle, but a more-or-less full strength Beholder managed to kill three retainers in the surprise round, charm a fourth, and then got its central eye poked out. I suspect it would have lasted about three rounds as well. Disappointing!