Thursday, November 9, 2017

Dragon Hunting


"Look, Zarlazz, our first customers."
"A human, two dwarves, and three... half-ogres? Half-orcs?"
"Hard to tell, isn't it."
"The dragon's gonna be upset."
"Why?"
"Kovath, Have you ever tasted half... ogre, I'm pretty sure it's ogre..."
"Oh. Good point. Well, a disappointed dragon is hardly the worst possible result of this experiment."

One of the interesting hiccups I ran into with my dungeon generator was when it wanted to populate a room with 3 large dragons to create a "boss" encounter for 6 starting DFRPG characters.

I started doing math on it and discovered pretty quickly that the party we had would die pretty horribly to just one of these dragons.  DR:9 is a show stopper if your Knight goes tanky, your wizard goes controller, your swashbuckler specializes in eye stabbing and you brought a scout instead of a barbarian.  At first, I was convinced this was a bug in CER (and it may still well be one, I'm doing testing on that with my group) but that's beyond the scope of this post.

My group has been sitting down and discussing how a starting party could kill a large dragon with careful planning and a made to suit party.  Looks pretty possible if you focus on big damage numbers from something like a maul and go for the skull, or a great axe to the neck.  Seems like you only *need* one solid damage dealer, some good buffs and a sacrificial blocker/parryer  to make it viable.

What would you do to try to bring down a dragon?

Related: how much treasure do you think such a beastie should have?  Current CER math kicks out $5,000 total which seems very small.

18 comments:

  1. IME scouts kill pretty much anything with eyes, pretty quickly. Have you factored that in?

    This is why the Void Wyrm ended up being able to parry with its breath weapon (all dragons in my DF game could).

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    1. The dragon rocks nictitating membrane 9, giving it the same eye DR it has for it's body. Eyes aren't a particular weak spot.

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  2. I think Christopher Rice has a system for treasure assignment based on It's a Threat!

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    1. That's what we used. It's located here:
      http://wordpress.ravensnpennies.com/gamemasters-guidepost-dungeon-fantasy-cer-based-treasure/
      I even ranked the fight as a Boss! for this calculation, but I think it's low. I also suspect dragons may need to clock in higher in some way.

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  3. What is the function you're using to get treasure from CER?

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    1. http://wordpress.ravensnpennies.com/gamemasters-guidepost-dungeon-fantasy-cer-based-treasure/
      I think we'll be evaluating ways to modify or enhance it over time.

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  4. That's a very low amount of treasure. The dragon killed in my game had something more like $120K, not counting the value of the magical items included in the hoard. It was tougher than the dragons in DFRPG, but not by too much.

    In my experience, you want at least one fighter capable of dealing 3d+ damage per turn. 2d+8 or more will do, but 3d+lots is better. Too many things have DR 9+, and some have significantly more. We started with a Weapon Master (Greatsword) with ST 17 doing 3d+8. At the time it seemed a little excessive, but it quickly became clear the 2d fighters just didn't have the requisite firepower.

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    1. Thanks for that! Do you mind sharing a statblock for said dragon? Did that amount of treasure seem too low, too high or just right in retrospect?

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    2. Did you ever put a value on the magic items?

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    3. I have a statblock, but I can't provide it, my players still don't know very much about its stats. It did have a level of Supernatural Durability, though, and some variations on the breath weapon (so you can't single-spell nullify it). That they know so I can reveal those.

      The treasure seemed fine - it was a boss-level fight that could have been a TPK if the players hadn't responded well and made some timely decisions. I'd probably put less for a standard dragon, even a large one, but still far more than $5K. Probably more like 10x that.

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    4. I don't think I ever put a real price on the magic items, either. A couple, yes, but not the big stuff that I knew wouldn't be sold.

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    5. Ah. Using randomly generated treasure means everything has a price. Horde value is currently divided between currency and rolled df8 treasure 50/50.

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  5. There are other ways to take down large creatures if you don't have high damage fighters. Acid for one, different mix of spells, laying specialised traps, etc.

    Nice post. Love the generator.

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    1. Thanks. We looked at acid, one issue there is that acid flasks only do 1d-3. You'd need *lots* of those too start chipping away at the Dr. An acid dragon would ignore then entirely.

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  6. I'm not surprised CER is failing to balance an encounter. I've found it to be unreliable at best and don't use it anymore. I'd advise running your party through some calibrating emcounters to get a feel for what they as PCs and players can handle, and then tweek your dragon enciunter.

    Also, I'd bring the highest ST bow possible so when the dragon takes to the wing, I could still have a hope of hurting it....maybe.

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    1. CER is the best system I could find for populating a dungeon at random. Do you have another suggestion?

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    2. I also think it's important to recognize that CER was never built to replace a GM, simply act as a guideline. WOTC had lots of great minds to wrestle with challenge rating. It never did come out perfect and that system has far fewer variables than GURPS DF does.

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    3. Honestly, I wouldn't even bother trying to balance any populating algorithms. I've found CER to be so far off the mark as to be completely useless. Instead, I'd either roll to randomly pick monsters or arbitrarily grab some and leave it up to the PCs to know when to run away. And I'd expect them to have the wherewithall to research the dungeon so they don't blunder into the fabled Dragonholm. After all, everyone has heard that the dragon has three heads...

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