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TFWoods3
July 26th, 2009, 19:50
I was going to post this is ENworld but it's too slow and wont even load when i try to sign in.

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http://www.fantasygrounds.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=838&stc=1&d=1248632637

So I'm going to be running A4: Burial Site from Keep on the Shadowfell soon and setting up my notes. I have changed the characters in this encounter. Instead of the Gnome Skulk, the main villain is a man by the name of Barden, who is a Wizard working with Kalarel to get an artifact (not the worthless mirror) that will unlock a hidden room in the Keep (the players will get use of this if they get the artifact).

The situation is, if the players approach, and the wizard launches an attack once they are in range (see image), would you treat that as a surprise attack, allowing Barden to attack instantly (held action and trigger perhaps) and then everyone rolls initiative, or would you describe that the guy is gesturing to cast a spell and allow eveyone to roll initiative, possibly attacking him before he gets the spell off? Or maybe a Bluff vs. Insight check to see if Barden gets to surprise them?

I already know that they will be cautious of the situation, waiting for anything to happen, so the surprise attack seems a bit unfair.

Oberoten
July 26th, 2009, 20:32
I'd give him a chance, a stealth or bluff check versus their ability to spot him and/or realize what is going on only seems fair. Spellcraft maybe?

Def some kind of skillcheck for them to avoid surprise attack. But if they fail they get what they get.

- Obe

leozelig
July 27th, 2009, 02:25
Sounds like fun!

I would run it as a surprise round with everyone rolling initiative. During the surprise round, all characters who make a successful insight (vs. bluff) check can act in initiative order - potentially acting before the spell is cast. Those who fail the check are surprised and cannot act.

Basically, sounds like what you are planning makes sense...

TFWoods3
July 27th, 2009, 04:27
Thanks guys for the input. I think I will run as a surprise round as you say Leo.

Griogre
July 27th, 2009, 07:27
The updated module for KotS has an interesting variant on this encounter you might want to look at it. http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/4dnd/dndtestdrive

Generally speaking, I think the updated PDF is better all around with different monsters and a bit more polished encounters. Plus it is in PDF form for easy copy and paste.

DNH
July 27th, 2009, 09:27
I would use the characters' Passive Insight scores to determine if they intuit that something is not right. Those that do are not surprised; those that do not *are* surprised. The first round would be a surprise in any case (for me).

You *could* make a Bluff roll for the wizard, yes, or you could simply use the old Easy/Moderate/Hard DCs table from the DMG.

TFWoods3
July 27th, 2009, 14:02
Hmm, that is interesting Griogre, I didn't know they changed it up like that. I will have to check out the later encounters for changes as well.

Thanks for the input guys.

Raheal
July 27th, 2009, 19:56
I had the same type of issue when I ran that encounter. The group paladin went down to that section after being called down by the gnome. The paladin instictively said that he was going down with his shield and sword out and ready.

I had the gnome make a bluff check and had the paladin make an insight check (didn't use passive because he was ACTIVELY suspicious of the group).

The gnome rolled very well and the paladin rolled very badly. Even with a bonus I gave him he failed that skill check.

I then gave the gnome a surprise attack on the paladin. He was furious. I told him to roll better next time :)

He complained about me not role playing very well, and that letting the die roll make the difference. I then explained to him that the gnome was trying to trick him just as much as the paladin was trying to not be tricked...and the die roll decided that factor. He was still pissed. Oh well, they won the fight very easily.

TFWoods3
July 27th, 2009, 21:52
... Oh well, they won the fight very easily.

I have made the main bad guy here an elite. I have been building him up through word of mouth before the players see him for the first time here. As the players asked around town (Timiro City Outskirts in my game) looking for their missing employer (Dalvin) several people mentioned he was with a man by the name of Barden. They have learned a few things about him before this encounter. I almost hate to see him die. If he can somehow escape I will have him show up again in the keep:bandit:

The search for Dalvin (a misspelling of his name that stuck) has been the major quest up till this point so I will be playing up the importance of Dalvin and Barden in relation to Kalarel. The artifact will play a much bigger role than the book gives.

Xorn
July 31st, 2009, 21:11
Raheal: I think I'd have handled it the same--my explanation being that the gnome is much trickier than I am, just as the paladin is probably not as insightful as the player is, because he doesn't know he's in a game and due for a combat encounter. Getting an ACTIVE check instead of passive was the impact his roleplay and choices had.

Sounds like a good plan TFWoods--a surprise round is what should apply, readied/triggered actions don't occur out of combat--they just cause surprise rounds. Allow perception/insights as applicable to detect his foul play early, then blast 'em! (Just hope the swift charging barbarian isn't close enough to charge if he senses something amiss!)