Thursday, July 31, 2008

If a Medium Size Minotaur Knocks Over a Large Dragon, is it Silly, Cool or Both?

a.k.a. Kobold Hall, Part 3

With the kobolds defeated, the rogue found the convenient note and key on the leader.

Area 5 - The True Threat
I replaced the map in the adventure with a long, cold sloping passage into the Frostfell Rift map from Fantastic Locations: The Frostfell Rift to make the terrain more interesting. The party crept in slowly, caught a glimpse of the dragon in the distance, and tried to talk to it, giving it time to circle around behind them. Once the fight was fully joined, the weakening breath seemed to worry the party a lot, especially when it scored a critical on the paladin (frost breath in your face, defender boy). The slowed, weakened minotaur fighter used goring charge to knock the dragon prone. This gave the rogue combat advantage, which she used to hit the dragon with her Easy Target exploit, and that allowed her to keep combat advantage for the rest of the fight.

I want to focus on the goring charge. Here's the relevant text from the minotaur entry in the back of the Monster Manual:
Special: You must charge as part of the attack.
Hit: 1d6 + Strength modifier damage, and the target is knocked prone.

We also have to look at 4e charging:
Movement Requirements: You must move at least 2 squares from your starting position, and you must move directly to the nearest square from which you can attack the enemy.

Slowed simply reduces movement to 2 (still far enough to charge), and weakened reduces damage (and says nothing about extra effects). The text of goring charge says nothing about the relative size of the attacker and the target. So by the 4e RAW, a slowed, weakened, medium-sized minotaur PC can use her goring charge to knock over a large-sized (or even bigger) dragon, making it prone and thus subject to her rogue ally doing Very Bad Things to it.

Realistic, no. Can be glazed over with action-movie-style description, yes. Player glee while recounting the moment repeatedly, priceless.

Are you the kind of DM who would:
1) Point out that even though no rule prohibits it, so many factors are inhibiting this action that you overrule the RAW and let the dragon keep its feet.
2) Run with the rules as written while describing the minotaur, a cloud of icy shards flying off her in all directions, running at the dragon in sumptuously-filmed action movie slow motion and bowling it over with a supreme effort of strength and will.

I'm #2 and fine with it. The player of the minotaur talked about this event almost daily for the entire week after it occurred, and with a grin on her face every time. The charge was probably the turning point in the battle - once the rogue nailed the prone dragon with Easy Target, she kept dishing out sneak attack damage every round while the paladin kept it marked so it couldn't effectively get rid of her. The teamwork displayed was inspiring to watch unfold. Three rounds later, the dragon went down under a pile of massive punishment.


Jason said...

Actually, this reminds me of a Role-Master game we played in high school where, going by the damage charts, we ended up pulling off breaking a dragon's neck four or five times. I guess sometimes the reality check needs to be thrown out in favor of mucho giggles.
Sad that it left us giggling like school-girls, then, and Hatha's bit with the dragon left the group in pretty much the same state. I think we need to follow Dr. Horrible's example and work on our evil laughs. It's all about having standards.

Donny_the_Dm said...

Excellent scenario. You made the right choice, for the right reasons.

Be careful applying it to say, a huge dragon. That would begin to break through the "suspension of disbelief" factor which makes these games so fun to begin with.

good for players is great, until it starts to become bad for DM.

Gregor LeBlaque said...


That was kinda my point. By the RAW, Hatha can knock over a colossal red (well, if she can hit it, which at this point she probably can't). You've probably seen the mini and can imagine the ridiculousness.

Still, does even that situation warrant the DM stepping in and nerfing the PC's power? I dunno.

Jason said...

I think in maybe more outrageous situations, it might be a matter for the DM to have to do some creative storytelling to fill in the gaps of reality.
Hell, look at what the A-Team could pull off, and they really didn't have great writers, yet we ate it with a spoon.
That's, of course, prior to them going legit...