Lords of the Feywild

In this installment of Critical Hit – A Major Spoilers Dungeons and Dragons Podcast: The Feywild doesn’t seem to like Orem that much, and is doing all it can to end him.

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The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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  1. frosstbyte
    August 16, 2014 at 5:44 pm — Reply

    My favorite part of this episode was when Adriana tried to convince Rodrigo that the party should be allowed to continue discussing strategy out of character, and Rodrigo flat out dressed everyone down for trying to make any decision based on such limited information. Rodrigo has been fairly lenient about not punishing the party for failing to analyze opponents and for combat based more on “let me hit this with all the damages” rather than coordinated tactics. It was both interesting and amusing for him to call such direct attention to those issues and to pull back the curtain a little bit.

    I also loved Orem’s appeal to the statues, as if they were animated by the vengeful spirit of his master and could be reasoned with to stop attacking. Given the circumstances, it definitely wasn’t a terrible idea to at least give it a shot. Nice twist at the end too. Well played as always, Rodrigo.

    • August 17, 2014 at 9:22 am — Reply

      It wasn’t that Orem was trying to get them to stop attacking, rather he was hoping they were being controlled, and that the statues would focus on him and not the rest of the party so they could escape.

      • frosstbyte
        August 17, 2014 at 9:13 pm — Reply

        Stephen, sorry if I misunderstood your intent. I thought it was cool less because of the desired result and more because I think, regardless of the statue response, it’s a subtle but powerful reminder of Orem’s guilt over the fate of his master. Orem feels horrible that his master died and believes, by calling himself out, that whatever/whoever is animating the statues will also respond to Orem as the person responsible for Master Althurn’s (sp?) death. It was a cool character moment.

        Also, I want to point out that I’m re-listening to season 2 right now, and I wanted to compliment you on how much better the show sounds in recent episodes than it did then. It’s an easy thing to not notice if you’re not listening to new and old episodes side by side, but I have, and just wanted to compliment you on your ongoing improvements to the podcast.

    • Jim
      August 17, 2014 at 11:52 am — Reply

      I actually thought that the interaction between Adriana and Rodrigo was really cool. I think a lot of times tabletop RPG players can be unfairly stereotyped as rules lawyers or munchkins, but this was like watching two grown ups solve a problem that just happened to occur during a D&D game. Rodrigo made a decision, Adriana was like, “I understand you’re the DM and it’s your call, but I would like to make my objection known,” and Rodrigo came back with, “These are the reasons I’ve made this decision.” Honestly, I wish more conversations at the table were like this.

      And then and that ended up being pretty cool too.

      • frosstbyte
        August 17, 2014 at 9:25 pm — Reply

        Yeah, while they were definitely metagaming, I don’t think anyone was trying to use the letter of the rules to subvert the spirit of the rules. What I enjoyed was seeing what *Rodrigo* noticed. The vast majority of the time, especially in combat, we really only see what the players (or their characters) notice. It was cool to have Rodrigo take a moment to observe what he as GM has noticed about this combat and his players’ reactions to it. Either way, it was a very calm, mature interaction and not one we’ve seen very often, so, it was cool.

        I also think it’s a valid subject for him to emphasize and for the players to think about. Foe analysis and coordinated tactics simply have not been a high priority for this party, which has observed as a strength in a number of mailbags, by Matthew, especially. While their planned-lack-of-plan-hit-stuff-super-hard has worked in general so far, as they approach and enter epic tier, the number of ways monsters can absolutely ruin the party’s day if the party isn’t prepared for their strengths, abilities, weaknesses, and tactics will increase. In a fight which, ultimately, was never meant to be won, this was a good time to give them a chance to think about that.

        • August 18, 2014 at 7:47 pm — Reply

          I’m not sure what you mean by “observed as a strength” in this context… I recall saying that Torq as a character has a strategy of hitting as hard as he can, but I wouldn’t say that it’s the smartest tactic in real life.

          That said, it’s an RPG, not a battle simulator, so I stand by the decision to act in character even in combat. Mileage, as always, may vary…

          • frosstbyte
            August 19, 2014 at 12:08 pm — Reply

            Well, I might be misremembering, but I thought you’d observed in a few mailbags your belief that the lack of strategy was something you enjoyed about this group and considered it to be one of the reasons why the group dynamic works. Perhaps your point was directed more at your belief that the way people act in combat is good role play regardless of the degree to which it represents good strategy and that it had worked well enough so far that it didn’t matter. If I’m misquoting you or I didn’t understand your point, I apologize. Not trying to co-opt or twist your words to mean something you didn’t intend.

            Regarding the second point, I think part of the ongoing tension in CH conceptually is the fact that you guys as a group are extremely RP heavy and D&D as a system is about as close as an RPG can get to being a battle simulator. To the extent that Rodrigo can modulate encounter difficulty, he can make up for tactical inefficiency, but that doesn’t change the fact that the complexity and difficulty of combat in 4e ramps up exponentially as you get further in the game. I wasn’t suggesting that Torq’s strategy of “hit the biggest thing around as hard as he can” can’t work or needs to be changed, but I think Rodrigo’s meta-point about how the group approaches combat situations in general is not unreasonable. After a high roll missed ac, the entire party still went on to all attack AC and no one rolled to analyze the foes until after he suggested it.

            In the same way that 4e essentially doesn’t tolerate not putting another point in your main stat every time you can, it also increasingly won’t tolerate everyone attacking the same defense or not using control skills or not knowing whether a monster can paralyze everyone if they’re within 2 squares of each other or something random. It might not require grandmaster chess levels of strategy, but that doesn’t mean the party can’t both elevate their general tactics and stay perfectly in character.

            • Dennis
              August 19, 2014 at 6:14 pm — Reply

              Think I’ll have to debate you on a couple of points, frosst – if the enemies are melee range attacks that *don’t* hit AC are rare; there were five big monsters and they were slowing everything in sight. Getting distance on them for a significant amount of time would’ve proved challenging.

              I do remember Brian being pretty good about rolling for Arcana checks in early episodes against enemies. That, and if I’m hearing numbers like ‘forty three against AC’ and my defenses are in the high twenties/low thirties I’ll admit the last thing I’m thinking about is a knowledge check or attacking other defenses and more ‘we’re screwed’.

              • frosstbyte
                August 20, 2014 at 2:00 pm — Reply

                I think what you’re describing there is called “panic” which is the exact opposite of tactics. The first thing out of Brian’s mouth (or close to it) was “Should we run away” a sentiment echoed quickly thereafter by Adriana. As it turned out, they were facing bad odds to begin with, but that flee response didn’t set them up for figuring out how to win, it set them up for trying to figure out how to not lose (i.e. all die).

                I’m not really sure what you’re trying to say in the first paragraph. The slowing aura isn’t relevant to which defense the party chose to attack, which is the point I was making. I believe everyone in the party has non-ranged, non-AC targeting attacks to avoid opportunity attacks (don’t have the character sheets on me to confirm). The point was that once a 30-something against AC misses, it makes no sense for the entire rest of the party to continue attacking AC for a round and a half. Unless, of course, as I said above, you’re panicking, which it’s entirely likely Rodrigo intended to make them do, because he’s sneaky like that.

                • PureChaosDI
                  August 20, 2014 at 3:05 pm — Reply

                  the thing is. Hitting thing in the face tends to work for every challenge. As the old proverb says. when all you have is a hammer you approach all of your problems like nails. This fight to me seemed like a way for Rodrigo to remind the players that enemies have more than one defence stat.

                  I know you said something like that Frosst but i thought that i would put it in an easier to understand way.

                  I agree with the panicking statement though :)

  2. Just Some Guy
    August 18, 2014 at 1:52 pm — Reply

    A lot of these recent episodes have been “throw over-leveled encounters at under-optimized players, then deus ex machina them out.” I just recently got caught up with all the episodes and honestly, the last 50 or so I’ve only listened to because I’ve already invested so much time… Recently discovered A different dnd podcast that I won’t name because it isn’t age appropriate for critical hit audience, but Rodrigo could learn some things from that DM. Just my two cents for what it’s worth (not much, but there it is).

    • frosstbyte
      August 18, 2014 at 3:47 pm — Reply

      Unless I’m misremembering something, the only other time in the history of CH that Rodrigo has used a similar mechanic was during the Spud fight which, although you may have listened to it yourself recently, was some 70 episodes and a year and a half ago.

      I think the “oh god why” in this episode was the consequence for failing the last skills challenge. Had they succeeded, I think they’d have just met up with the rest of the family and been on their way. Instead, Orem got to feel really guilty and everyone else had to be staring death in the face.

  3. Dennis
    August 18, 2014 at 9:03 pm — Reply

    In Rodrigo I trust. Story well told, sir. and like Jim I like that Rodrigo let them have their say and then laid the law down. The ‘rescue’ from the fight is a reminder that not every battle is meant to be won; I’ve read about some DMs who occasionally have very easy fights to remind their players that they’re awesome and can kick ass.

    Battles are also not always meant to be won, and occasionally for narrative. I think it’s more fun to try and win even in the face of hopeless odds rather then be told the enemies are too tough for you and have try to roleplay it out. It’s something I’ve gotten to do twice now and once time we got the DM frustrated that he wasn’t killing us :p

    • PureChaosDI
      August 19, 2014 at 4:55 am — Reply

      i’m pretty sure that they could have won the fight if they hadn’t just hit them,

      As Rodrigo said reflex is their worst save. if they’d used more spells that don’t target the enemies high as F AC. perhaps used some of Ket’s Aura things to lower AC (if he can using them, i don’t know the class very well). Maybe used Torq and Trelle to tank damage and protect Orem Ket and Randus with moves like bull rushing to keep the statues away from them. Orem would be used to deal direct damage with spells that attack will and fort instead of AC. Randus could have been used as a healer. Hanging back and keeping the tanks alive.

      I just feel that this was not a “lost cause battle” Just a challenging one.

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