Friday, February 15, 2013

Adventure Balance in D&D Next is Screwy

I'm beginning to think that a big part of the unease I've felt while trying to run playtest sessions has been with the adventure design. Just take a look at one of the main areas in Reclaiming Blingdenstone- The House Center. Here are the encounters faced. Spoilers, etc.

2 zombies - 40xp
4 fire beetles - 40xp
3 skeletons - 60xp
1 gray ooze - 180xp
5 giant centipedes - 50xp
12 stirges - 120xp
1 wight, 2 skeletons, 2 zombies - 410xp
4 orcs - 200xp

Ok, according to the DM guidelines, an easy encounter for a party of four should equal 80xp, average is 120xp, and tough is 240xp. Now even without considering if the monsters have the correct xp (the wight seems really overvalued at 330xp for example), the encounters seem far too easy on paper and certainly played that way on the table. Four of the encounters are not even tough enough to be considered easy. Three are consider average but in reality only the orc encounter should be considered that hard. The gray ooze was alone and I think the rule should be that a solitary creature has it's xp halved for calculating encounter strength. And the stirges only come out to attack 1d4 per round so you never should face all twelve at once which makes it more like an easy encounter. and the one tough encounter really wasn't very tough in actual play. The wight was neither scary nor tough. My group plowed through this dungeon with no real challenge at all.

Lesson learned - don't trust the modules that wotc has put into these packets. They might not have been designed with the current rules in mind. Go through all of the encounters and update them to match the dm guidelines. For example, all of the easy encounters here should have double the creatures in them. And the stirges should all attack at once. The wight will still be lame but the party should at least be worn down a bit by the time they get to him.