Monday marked our first fight in the epic tier in Nations of Rage. It was amazing! At my table, that means that the fight was challenging without the players feeling that they had lost too much of their cool and they had meaningful choices to make. We had a small flare up at the end of last session/over the week that really came down to remembering the difference between dying and dead. I had been holding back in the wrong way because I was being too sensitive to the unfun of sitting there with an unconscious character and my players had been feeling some “sticker shock” over the recent damage numbers (they’re seeing more epic tier foes). We all needed to relax and return to the idea that it’s okay for characters to lick floor, but it’s not okay for them to stay there.
This encounter included three Masked Assassins and three Masked Conjurors (27,750 EXP for a party of six).
- The imagery associated with this monster was especially pleasing. “Wait, it peeled off its shadow?” … and then it peeled off its face.
- Having them produce minions made for interesting tactical choices for the characters. I normally reserve summoning-style powers for elites/solos or casters, but it worked well here. They spent a fair bit of energy prepping against potential gotchas for when the shadow was killed.
- Unmasking was intended to work as a mild anti-defender mechanic where the tanks get pushed off a target and can’t return. I ended up using it more for a damage boost because of the way the fight unfolded. Giving people the ability to slide themselves in response to a fear effect seemed to work better than pushes or obligating people to move.
- The way that Unmasking is templated (“cannot come within 3 squares…”) is somewhat confusing with regard to what happens if the Masked Assassin moves to within 3 squares of someone under the effect. If it had come up, I probably would have ruled that the character couldn’t move closer to the Assassin, but that they weren’t forced to leave. “Bully zones” can work, but they can have a punishing feel beyond what is intended.
- +28 vs. AC against level 21 characters woke up the players, as they were suddenly hearing 42+ attack rolls more often than they had before. It did expose what was going on with the party’s AC because the fighter has an AC of 40 (41 with Boots of the Fencing Master), while the rest of the party hovers between 33 and 36.
- I could write at length about the strength of the Like a Moth mechanic. Ranged monsters generally need something for when the characters roll up on them but, at the same time, making the escape/avoidance mechanic too powerful can be very frustrating. Like a Moth found the sweet spot because it put the conjuror in a position to use Ignition, but not in a perfectly safe place.
- Unwelcome Gift was not on the original monster. The “increase the ongoing damage and hot potato it to an ally” was included in Ignition. Obviously I knew what the power was supposed to do, but I cleaned it up for other people. I’m not sure that the phrase “The ongoing fire and necrotic damage is always save ends, regardless of how it was applied” is necessary, but I had a nagging feeling that leaving it out opened up the possibility of a negative rules interaction.
- That said, Ignition is an awesome power, as it demonstrates the principle of doing awful things to the characters and having it be okay as long as they have some level of control. The Genasi warlock had resist 15 to both, which was fine until the ongoing damage hit 40. Keep in mind that parties at this level should have access to saving throws, making this power a little less scary than it appears. The residue of Ignition (2d10+20 for each attack they make) is similarly strong. The Tiefling paladin/warlock took 87 damage for attacking three guys while under this effect, but that was okay because it was the choice that he made.
- The miss effect on Night’s Flame never came up, so I don’t know whether or not it was necessary or flavorful. I suspect that it could be safely deleted.