Thursday, September 17, 2009

Playtesting the Scorpire Vampion

During hiatus I'm revisiting the WWtH monsters and trying them out in actual 4e combat encounters. With the party at first level we tested out the beelion, the doppelganger freak and the laughing lambchop lizard, then tweaked the latter two and ran them again. After leveling the party up to level 2 and giving them appropriate gear, we completed a couple of level 2 encounters. It turns out the Weekly What the Heck is kinda shy on level 2 sample encounters, so this week we leveled 'em up again and moved on to level 3. The party is still:
A goliath warden
A gnome bard
A longtooth shifter ranger
A deva invoker

The girls decided the gimmicky Teleport Temple was no fun anymore, so they told me their characters were leaving. Fine. They stepped outside into the Dragon Graveyard map from Fantastic Locations: Dragondown Grotto. The last time they were here they almost lost half the party. *evil laughter* My favorite frightened wizard ran by again, yelling 'It's the zombie apocalypse! Aaah!" A half-dozen zombies and guy who kinda looked like a vampire came shambling out of the shadows around them. This was almost the level 3 sample encounter from the scorpire vampion entry, but I replaced the gravehound with a scorpire scuttler.

The girls spotted the minion-ness of the zombie rotters pretty quickly and made short work of the lot of them. The zombie brute put up a little more of a fight but not much. One of the items they picked up for the ranger was a +1 sunblade scimitar, and she was enjoying its radiant damage very much. In fact, a critical from the scimitar in the third or fourth round took the corruption corpse from full hit points to two.

Meanwhile, the WWtH monsters weren't faring much better. The scorpire vampion missed the warden with his hypnotic gaze, and only caught the warden in his confounding stare blast. But the warden made her beginning-of-turn saving throw against the stare and was right back on him. The scuttler leaped out from a hiding place and attacked the bard, but missed with the bite part of its scorpilock attack. The gnome faded away and got behind cover where she could blast the scuttler with impunity. The scuttler tried to daze the invoker but failed due to the bard's misdirected mark, then couldn't hit with its bite either. With their recharge powers spent (and not recharging, despite what felt like a dozen rolls) the scorpires were easily defeated.

The scorpires were obviously created before I read the design advice somewhere that a monster should have one recharge power at most. That advice is dead on. Tracking the multiple possible recharges on just two monsters was a pain. Also, it's a little weird how the hypnotic gaze works differently on the scuttler and the vampion (a minor action for one, standard for the other). A little rework and another playtest is in order, I think. My initial thought is that scorpilock should be at-will, confounding stare should be encounter, and hypnotic gaze should be a standard action for both monsters (and possibly also at-will, at least for the vampion).

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