Raid bosses as 4e solo encounters

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Raid bosses as 4e solo encounters

Postby Bonetti » Wed Feb 10, 2010 4:37 am

(This may grow larger)

Naxxramas: Patchwerk, Grobbulus, Gluth: http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/ ... /Naxxramas

I will have to admit, the basic 4e mechanics lend themselves very well to this sort of adaptation.

Maybe I'll have to work up some of the epic fights I remember -- Ragnaros, Onyxia, Twin Emps, etc...
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Re: Raid bosses as 4e solo encounters

Postby Big Mac » Thu Feb 11, 2010 2:10 pm

Bonetti wrote:I will have to admit, the basic 4e mechanics lend themselves very well to this sort of adaptation.


People have accused 4e of being optimised for WoW players, so it is only logical for someone to try this. I would love to see this done for 3e.
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Re: Raid bosses as 4e solo encounters

Postby Bonetti » Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:56 pm

One of the weaknesses of doing this in D&D, of course, is that raid bosses are intended to have one or two viable strategies (and occasionally a bug to exploit). Further, the leading guilds don't know it in advance, and often spend time wiping (everyone dying) on a boss until they figure it out. They're intended to be punishing, and only allow a raid that can execute to complete the encounter and get the rewards.

That sort of mechanic doesn't work well in D&D, where one should expect a difficult fight but not a near-100% probability of the party dying the first 10 times they try it (and, really, D&D doesn't lend itself well to the whole wipe/res mechanic anyway).

However, the WoW fights often have interesting mechanics spicing them up. With a judicious use of same, I can see that adding a lot of interest to regular D&D encounters.

As for doing them in 3.x... well, 3e never was really to my taste (2e stayed my favorite until 4e came out, and 4e only really wins because of the overall focus on math balance and the transparency of mechanic design). I'd be happy to proof someone else doing it.

I'm pretty sure my party's going to eventually face some variation on the Prince Keleseth fight (Utgard Keep -- periodically "freezes" one attacker, summons minions, and has damage-increasing diseases he lays down on his target). Some of the multi-boss fights (end of Arcatraz, for instance) or wave approaches (Black Morass, Culling of Stratholme, or Violet Hold) are also doable. The 4e DMG has some suggestions on how to run an endurance fight like those.

If I could figure out how to make it work, I'd try a Twin Emps fight, just for fun -- but I'd have to pretty much feed the strategy to the party to even begin to make it work.

Basically, for me it's a matter of swiping ideas from WoW to make the Big Bad's fight more than a "tough elite you wear down" fight just like every other one. (It also shows different approaches than area knockbacks to keep the party off the boss so he has more than a round :-) )
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Re: Raid bosses as 4e solo encounters

Postby Big Mac » Fri Feb 12, 2010 8:35 pm

Bonetti wrote:One of the weaknesses of doing this in D&D, of course, is that raid bosses are intended to have one or two viable strategies (and occasionally a bug to exploit). Further, the leading guilds don't know it in advance, and often spend time wiping (everyone dying) on a boss until they figure it out. They're intended to be punishing, and only allow a raid that can execute to complete the encounter and get the rewards.

That sort of mechanic doesn't work well in D&D, where one should expect a difficult fight but not a near-100% probability of the party dying the first 10 times they try it (and, really, D&D doesn't lend itself well to the whole wipe/res mechanic anyway).


What you really need for D&D, is for the party to retreat (or for the NPCs to retreat) so that people can have a big fight that turns out to be a stalemate.

Bonetti wrote:However, the WoW fights often have interesting mechanics spicing them up. With a judicious use of same, I can see that adding a lot of interest to regular D&D encounters.


WoW also has some weird mechanics...like ten PCs standing in the same point in space and turning into a 20 armed attacker. :roll:

Bonetti wrote:As for doing them in 3.x... well, 3e never was really to my taste (2e stayed my favorite until 4e came out, and 4e only really wins because of the overall focus on math balance and the transparency of mechanic design). I'd be happy to proof someone else doing it.


If I ever buy the stack of Warcraft RPG books that are on my "to buy" list, I might take you up on that.

But there are those fan books that are supposedly due to come out at any moment. I've got a feeling that their team could do a much better job than me.

I would be much more likely to build on their stuff and make Warcraftspace for Spelljammer! :twisted:

Bonetti wrote:I'm pretty sure my party's going to eventually face some variation on the Prince Keleseth fight (Utgard Keep -- periodically "freezes" one attacker, summons minions, and has damage-increasing diseases he lays down on his target). Some of the multi-boss fights (end of Arcatraz, for instance) or wave approaches (Black Morass, Culling of Stratholme, or Violet Hold) are also doable. The 4e DMG has some suggestions on how to run an endurance fight like those.

If I could figure out how to make it work, I'd try a Twin Emps fight, just for fun -- but I'd have to pretty much feed the strategy to the party to even begin to make it work.

Basically, for me it's a matter of swiping ideas from WoW to make the Big Bad's fight more than a "tough elite you wear down" fight just like every other one. (It also shows different approaches than area knockbacks to keep the party off the boss so he has more than a round :-) )


I think that GMs need to be given some tools that allow people to subdue their opponents in a way that doesn't allow them to rush in and kill them all.

The WoW approach is to kill people and make them run for 5 minutes to get back into the game. But a D&D approach (of any edition) could possibly be to put attackers into a stasis field that means that they can't attack, but can also not be attacked.

Or perhaps attackers could be dropped into a non-fatal trap. Or perhaps the defender could create a non-fatal trap that they themselves could jump into to gain access to an escape route.

With the right amount of design, a building (or dungeon) could be turned into something that might challange people's skills (or proficiencies or whatever 4e has), as well as their ability to fight.
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Re: Raid bosses as 4e solo encounters

Postby Bonetti » Fri Feb 12, 2010 10:48 pm

Actually, 4e has both traps and skill challenges as "encounters" (with xp rewards for completing them) and as pieces of an encounter (e.g. traps as interesting terrain, skill challenges to close the portal behind the big demon). Depending on how they're played out, they look like they work well.

For a decent idea of what can be done, I recommend skimming Dungeon Delve. It has a three-encounter mini-dungeon for each level, and some very interesting little tidbits in each encounter. Some encounters have some poorly chosen bits, but overall it gives some idea of how it all works.

That being said, I'm still planning on using WoW bosses (instance, raid) as inspiration when I need some interesting Big Bad tactics or powers to ensure a fight is reasonably epic. I'm just ditching the "many attempts" idea, and I'll probably try to introduce any novel mechanics at least once before they're seen on a boss.
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Re: Raid bosses as 4e solo encounters

Postby Big Mac » Tue Feb 16, 2010 9:13 am

Bonetti wrote:Actually, 4e has both traps and skill challenges as "encounters" (with xp rewards for completing them) and as pieces of an encounter (e.g. traps as interesting terrain, skill challenges to close the portal behind the big demon). Depending on how they're played out, they look like they work well.


I see so many things in 4e that sound like good ideas...but just can't bring myself to like it.

But this sort of thing sounds like it could be a great house rule for any 3e gamers. This is something that should have been put into 3.75. I wonder if Pathfinder has it.

Bonetti wrote:For a decent idea of what can be done, I recommend skimming Dungeon Delve. It has a three-encounter mini-dungeon for each level, and some very interesting little tidbits in each encounter. Some encounters have some poorly chosen bits, but overall it gives some idea of how it all works.


I don't know Dungeon Delve. Is it a freebie?

Bonetti wrote:That being said, I'm still planning on using WoW bosses (instance, raid) as inspiration when I need some interesting Big Bad tactics or powers to ensure a fight is reasonably epic. I'm just ditching the "many attempts" idea, and I'll probably try to introduce any novel mechanics at least once before they're seen on a boss.


Hmm. Talking of instances, I wonder if they themselves could be used in a tabletop RPG. Maybe I should start a new thread on that.

EDIT: WoW "instances" as an RPG mechanic
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Re: Raid bosses as 4e solo encounters

Postby Bonetti » Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:22 am

Big Mac wrote:
Bonetti wrote:Actually, 4e has both traps and skill challenges as "encounters" (with xp rewards for completing them) and as pieces of an encounter (e.g. traps as interesting terrain, skill challenges to close the portal behind the big demon). Depending on how they're played out, they look like they work well.

I see so many things in 4e that sound like good ideas...but just can't bring myself to like it.

But this sort of thing sounds like it could be a great house rule for any 3e gamers. This is something that should have been put into 3.75. I wonder if Pathfinder has it.


I dislike 3.x tremendously. It turned too many things on its head, and it felt very sloppy to me. Not to mention, the books themselves are difficult for me to use -- the headings don't pop for skimming, the text is poorly formatted, and the background graphics give me a headache with all those horizontal lines. The mechanics are usable, but the problem was that 2e was my favorite edition. I saw OD&D -> AD&D -> 2e as a particular path, and 3.x veered WAY off target (in my view). It went in a direction contrary to my taste.

That being said, I've been playing 3.0 for the last four years (the group resisted the shift to 3.5, and this game has been running a long time). It's still fun.

With a new campaign, we decided to jump in feet first with 4e and try it out. Looks like crap on paper, plays well at the table once one gets used to it. It's grown on me, and my initial reaction was much more negative toward 4e than it was toward 3e. It's been a big shift for all of us (most of us played most editions at some point), but so far it's been worth it.

Big Mac wrote:
Bonetti wrote:For a decent idea of what can be done, I recommend skimming Dungeon Delve. It has a three-encounter mini-dungeon for each level, and some very interesting little tidbits in each encounter. Some encounters have some poorly chosen bits, but overall it gives some idea of how it all works.


I don't know Dungeon Delve. Is it a freebie?

No. Skim it at a book store :-)

There's a 3 encounter demo for each level, one through thirty. Each is about 6 pages, and many feature traps, skill challenges, or other interesting terrain (healing pools, bonuses/penalties for standing in zones). Some of the monster tactics don't actually work well, but overall it's a good introduction to the style of play they tend to push.

There might be a free delve (not necessarily out of that book) available for download, since it proved to be a popular format.
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Re: Raid bosses as 4e solo encounters

Postby Big Mac » Wed Mar 10, 2010 1:22 am

Bonetti wrote:There might be a free delve (not necessarily out of that book) available for download, since it proved to be a popular format.


I've found this: DUNGEON DELVE. Level 4. THE RAIDER'S HIDEOUT.

Is that similar?
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Re: Raid bosses as 4e solo encounters

Postby Bonetti » Wed Mar 10, 2010 2:41 am

It has the 3 encounter format down. The ones in the book are a little more complete, though.

It looks like there's an excerpt (the level 3 encounter) on the product page.

As you can see from looking at that PDF, they're three structured encounters (usually with interesting terrain features), a mini-story, and some expansion suggestions. I found them invaluable for mechanics testing, but they'd also serve well as a one-night quick adventure.
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Re: Raid bosses as 4e solo encounters

Postby Bonetti » Wed Mar 10, 2010 8:37 pm

Also, it looks like they released an adventure adaptation of part of the new Eberron novel today: Haruuc's Tomb. It looks like it's a Level 8 Dungeon Delve.

Actually, that's kind of a cool idea. I hope they do more adaptations like that in the future :-)
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Re: Raid bosses as 4e solo encounters

Postby Big Mac » Thu Mar 11, 2010 1:50 pm

I like the "shape" of this. I don't quite get the "4e-ness" of it yet. But I'll have a skim through this and see what I can get out of it.

(I certainly like the idea of dungeons being given "levels".)
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Re: Raid bosses as 4e solo encounters

Postby Bonetti » Wed Jun 16, 2010 8:30 pm

The introductory adventure in my D&D game was just a "float down the river, being attacked" and took a while to resolve. However, the second adventure was a tomb jaunt of sorts, and I pulled in some WoW-ish mechanics. It was Delve-shaped (three encounters, the last one being the boss), and the two "trash" encounters were each in their own style.

The "boss" fight was a buff leader, but not a full elite (that would've been too rough). I deliberately structured it such that he was aware of their presence, they knew someone was in the room, but nothing was visible at the outset. This let each reveal be a surprise as they had to adjust their thinking. So, the boss pops up from behind the tomb, as does a wraith. Once the fight starts in earnest, the boss summons four new skeletons (and the ability in question recharged when they bloodied him). This gave a "waves of bad guys" vibe to a room that started out empty, and it made the encounter pretty exciting and more than just a straight up fight.

I was trying to shape it somewhat like the encounter with Prince Keleseth in Utgarde Keep (who summons skeletons periodically), except I gave the party two main targets in addition to the adds. This kept their focus split enough to extend the fight long enough to be interesting :-)
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