26
Apr
10

blue box blues

Calling it this

But using This

Been prepping the Blue Box lately – or rather, the Cook/Marsh version thereof.

For a year now I’ve wanted to create a high-level adventure to showcase the famous monsters and some under-used rules.  So I’m hoping to design a 6-hour dungeon for four Name Level characters.

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.)

It wouldn't be smiling if it knew it would be dead three minutes later

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!


3 Responses to “blue box blues”


  1. 1 Scott LeMien
    April 27, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Isn’t the expert set really about sending characters from the basic set out to slay dragons, watching them from your wizard’s sanctum?

    Oh, and if it’s set in the black peaks, i hope there’s a reward for any adventurer who leaves the dungeon to kick the shit out of Bargle.

  2. April 27, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    I think the Expert Set is mostly about pretending the Hex Crawl rules aren’t deadly dull, and pretending that you really did accumulate 300,000 XP by playing the game as written, but I’m kind of cynical.

  3. 3 Scott LeMien
    April 27, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    You’re not ‘kind of’ cynical…


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