Dream a Little Dream of Terror

Sarah Darkmagic - Posted on 20 May 2010

A DM needs to metagame. Beyond the rules and the story, the DM is the one who needs to watch the clock and check in on how the players are doing stamina-wise. In addition, the DM needs to make sure that there is fun for everyone during the session. My players like combat and so, while I'll occasionally run a session without any, I try to make sure every night has some. During the planning for last night's session, however, I was really struggling to come up with one. And then, the morning of game day, I had an idea. The PCs were going to be sleeping in a magical tower filled with the magic of Sehanine. Why not do a dream sequence? We had done an earlier one that went really well, so I know my players wouldn't hate me for it. So during lunch, I quickly came up with this encounter and I drew the map at the table.

Umbragen Shadow Walker [DDI]
2 Dark Smasher [DDI]
Seething Wraith [DDI]

At the start of the encounter, the Shadow Walker and Dark Smashers are at the table, planning some military maneuvers. The wraith is hanging out at the end of the mass of rocks to the southeast, on the opposite side of the cavern from the tunnel. The PCs can place themselves whereever they like in the tunnel to the north.

The Dark Smashers and the Shadow Walker work together to get the Smashers combat advantage. At the beginning, I just used the Walker's Double Attack but then moved to the Soulblade as things got interesting. A bit mean I know, but an interesting twist to the encounter.

This meant the tension at the beginning was focused on the wraith, with its aura that causes damage and dazed. The tension was amplified when one of the PCs, blinded by the Walker's Dancing Shadows, blindly walked down the eastern side corridor and ended right next to it. At the start of his next turn, the damage and effect came seemingly out of nowhere.

Room Notes
The white discs are light sources. The PCs have a magic item I made which gives them the following encounter power:

Encounter (Teleportation): Must be adjacent to a light source. Teleport up to 5 squares and end adjacent to a light source.

This magic item means that light sources, and their absence, become important elements of the terrain.

DM Notes
Dealing with stealth is difficult as always, and when the condition of blindness is tacked on, it becomes even harder. There was a bit of discussion of when the wraith would be felt by the PC walking down the corridor. I had forgotten that the PC was blinded and started to put the wraith on the board. Once I recovered my error, the player argued that his character would still know it existed because he was only blidned. While blindness doesn't make all perception go away (he might have still heard it for instance), a confluence of events led me to rule he wouldn't have noticed it right away. The wraith has a +14 to stealth and blinded gives a -10 to perception checks. I would have mentioned the aura, but after having to explain why the wraith was hidden, I just plain forgot.

The Soulblade power of the Shadow Walker is really, really mean. In addition to the amount of damage it does, a successful hit means the PC can't spend a healing surge until the end of the Walker's next turn. This can turn it into a PC killer, especially if you have other monsters around to give it buffs. For instance, the Kir-Lanan Voice I used in the mirrors encounter gives a +1 to attack rolls with its aura.

Also, I ignored the healing powers on the monsters. I guess I could have switched them out for something else, but I lacked the time. With the powers they had, the combat would be interesting enough and healing would have made the combat last even longer.


Yeah, so thinking about the blindness situation. I was wrong last night. The wraith started out hidden thanks to its cover. When Skamos moved around the rock it was hiding behind the wraith no longer had cover and thus would normally no longer be hidden from him. However he was blinded, which grants concealment to the wraith, so in effect the wraith would never have come out of hiding and have stayed hidden. But I would still have been able to make a perception check at -10 to detect him. However given the +14 to stealth and the fact that it requires a standard action, I wouldn't have done so. Although I he would have become unhidden had Skamos moved into his square.

However I still contend that I should have known about the aura, even if he couldn't locate it. I'd have to check about that.

I think in that scenario using the teleport power with the rings wasn't that compelling. Considering a normal move action is 6 squares, the teleport would have only helped if to avoid AoO or immobilized, or whatnot. Also the light sources weren't placed strategically given where we lured the monster. It would be interesting if the teleport could be done as part of a move or if allowed transport between two light sources within LoS. But it was nice to be able to consider those options and how we could use them.

Another thing to mention is that we have a Paladin the party that could have given healing to a character unable to use his own surges.

Last night's encounter wasn't set up to make the rings overly useful, but since you guys have them, I need to be better about telling you what light sources exist and where they are. Teleport also helps you move around without drawing opportunity attacks. I think doing it as part of a move or within two light source within LoS might be a bit overpowered for the item unless I moved it up to a daily, which would be less useful since you guys already have a bunch of item dailies.

You didn't have the Paladin last night :-)

At first, I got a little confused and thought you had designed a dream sequence combat encounter where the players play as 2 smashers, a shadow walker and a wraith. Which now that I think of it, isn't entirely a bad idea.

Your "light source as teleportal" magic item is awesome. Consider it stolen.

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