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Author Topic: Engaging/Balanced Encounters For a Cleric/Ninja Duo?  (Read 2001 times)

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Offline Veretrix

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Engaging/Balanced Encounters For a Cleric/Ninja Duo?
« on: August 06, 2015, 12:43:36 AM »
Hey everyone. I made another post talking about a campaign I will run with my two friends. One decided to be a Tengu healing cleric (much to my surprise, since he is the "smash the enemy with my +50 Legendary Keen Acidic Flaming Unholy Returning Warhammer of Demonic Rage until it dies" type of player). The other is a fetchling ninja (alternate rogue class; no surprise with that player, but it's still different than his usual schtick).

My campaign is going to be set in a coastal kingdom that is dominated mostly by forest, with the main exception being the coastlines. I have an idea for the first few encounters, but I'm a bit stuck on ideas for random encounters after that. I don't want to make the encounters feel monotonous or stale, but I also don't want to murder them before level 5 if it can be helped (they're starting at level 1). If anyone has an idea, or knows where to find some, for some early (level 1-6ish) encounters/adventure hooks for a pair of d8 HD adventurers, let me know. I feel like too much combat might be too much considering only one of them is fairly combat centered (Ninja). The cleric, however has 11 Strength and focused on mental scores, having 19 Wisdom and 15 Charisma.

Ideas for short story arcs are appreciated as well. I'm planning for this to be consisting of multiple (possibly interlocked) story arcs, but I'm not quite sure where I want to even begin with those.

Offline Moonlake

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Re: Engaging/Balanced Encounters For a Cleric/Ninja Duo?
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2015, 03:57:57 AM »
Hi, Veretix. The link below looks like a good starting place for you to explore:
https://strolen.com/viewing/Starting_Adventures

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Offline axlerowes

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Re: Engaging/Balanced Encounters For a Cleric/Ninja Duo?
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2015, 07:57:43 AM »
Why are the cleric and Ninja together? What of the cleric's ethos or church?  I would focus these early encounters on defining the character's relationship, the normal game world and how the characters are connected to that game world.

Would you describe your plan for campaign as being more Robin Hood or Conan?

Offline Veretrix

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Re: Engaging/Balanced Encounters For a Cleric/Ninja Duo?
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2015, 01:30:41 PM »
Why are the cleric and Ninja together? What of the cleric's ethos or church?  I would focus these early encounters on defining the character's relationship, the normal game world and how the characters are connected to that game world.

Would you describe your plan for campaign as being more Robin Hood or Conan?
I'm not entirely sure as to how they know each other yet. The cleric's deity is LG (cleric is NG, ninja will likely be LN, possibly LE but I'm trying to avoid that) and represents healing, community, and justice, so perhaps that could be a favorable trait for the ninja (justice moreso). The first encounter will be that the wagon they are riding on with various travellers is attacked by kobolds. At this point they don't know each other, but my hope is that they will see a common goal of protecting the civilians and getting them to safety. During this time, their bonds can develop. Plus, with the cleric being a Tenth, maybe he could each the ninja a thing or two about swordplay, since ninjas have limited proficiencies and Tenth can use any swordlike weapon. If all else fails, I can throw in an NPC or two so that they have either a common goal and/or a character that can be a bridge between some of their differences. It may also depend on how zealous and "by-the-book" that the cleric is.

I'm thinking this campaign may go a bit more of a Robin Hood route since neither is particularly optimized for dishing out a ton of damage.

Offline valadaar

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Re: Engaging/Balanced Encounters For a Cleric/Ninja Duo?
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2015, 03:31:19 PM »
I wouldn't leave it to chance. Get your players to agree on a common thread of some kind. 
   
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Offline Veretrix

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Re: Engaging/Balanced Encounters For a Cleric/Ninja Duo?
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2015, 03:50:43 PM »
I wouldn't leave it to chance. Get your players to agree on a common thread of some kind.
I was thinking that the kobolds they find will be working for some kind of cult that is trying to overthrow the current regime. They made a deal with the kobolds that they could raid and kill whatever humanoids they come across, as long as the gather up as much blood as they can (the fresher the better) and keep it in their lair until members of the cult come to retrieve it. Obviously, the kobolds have no knowledge of the cult's ulterior motive, but they love the idea of being backed by a powerful cult, and so they fight with a bit more fervor than standard kobolds. Ultimately, they are going to use all of the blood (ideally a massive amount by this time) to summon a powerful demon (perhaps a Glabrezu or a Shemhazian?) to lay waste to the capital city, and possibly more beyond that.

Offline axlerowes

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Re: Engaging/Balanced Encounters For a Cleric/Ninja Duo?
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2015, 08:32:15 PM »
I think Valadaar meant you should work out the characters relationship before you get started.  Maybe they are brothers, maybe they were both in love with the same woman but she died and they honor bound to spend a year together out of some odd grieving ritual that would be just fine if everybody lived in the small town but is tough to keep up if you are a Ninja and wandering priest (respectively), maybe the Ninja is in love with the priest but can't admit to himself or the priest, maybe the Ninja's "day job" (cause you would be a crappy Ninja is if you road around in wagons in your full Ninja garb) is as some sort church official.  He doesn't need to be full on cleric by title but could be like a vicar or alderman. 

Anyway get the PC relationship down before you start is my advice and I think Valadaar's advice as well.

And watch The Gamers, it is on youtube if you can't find else where. 

Offline valadaar

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Re: Engaging/Balanced Encounters For a Cleric/Ninja Duo?
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2015, 09:28:35 PM »
Thats what I meant. I've seen lots of problems with 'oh, they just see the PC sign over their heads and cooperate." Seen that fall apart quite a few times.

   
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Offline Rizaleous

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Re: Engaging/Balanced Encounters For a Cleric/Ninja Duo?
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2015, 12:11:48 PM »
In term of random encounters there's a very interesting mentality that I read in a study once and have gone out of my way to put into practice, where monstrous creatures are made more monstrous by not using them very often. Try throwing things like wolves, pissed off bears, hawk, kobolds, goblins and other common humanoids at them for 90% of the random encounters, and only very rarely throw out wild and unique things like owlbears, bullettes, and any other monsters that aren't regarded as something you'd find in the real world or which clearly stated as common in the game world (I.E. elves are safe to do often, even though you don't see them in real life).

As for quest hooks, Questing with two players just needs to be factored when it comes to the CR of the monsters I believe. If your characters are at Character wealth as per the rule text and they're not monopolizing on any loopholes (I.E. I've got a Dwarf player in my game who found a blaring loophole in the vital strike apocrypha and built a character around it. according to the rules he should do a minimum of 200 damage on his vital strike attacks and he's level 11 so I had to heavily nerf his character with house rules) then you should throw things of half the total CR value you traditionally would. This is done because CR dictates a worthy challenge for a group of 5 people at the same level as the CR value. so two level 1's could probably have a good fight taking on one to three CR 1/2's.

I think the resources posted for finding good starting quests before me are a great resource for finding quest ideas.

Offline Wulfhere

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Re: Engaging/Balanced Encounters For a Cleric/Ninja Duo?
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2015, 08:19:36 PM »
Battles involving small PC parties can be very 'swingy" at low levels:  Any decent challenge poses the risk of the party falling to a few bad rolls.  To minimize that risk while they get a level or two under their belts, avoid "hack and slash" adventures.  Give them a social conflict, a mystery, or a horror adventure, where fewer of the challenges place the characters in mortal peril.  To bolster the party, you may also want to add a supporting NPC or two to serve as redshirts.  (Just be careful that these NPCs don't overshadow the main characters.)

While I'm generally a Pathfinder guy, you might want to look at how 5th edition D&D gives each character personality traits, bonds, ideals, and flaws.  Give the players some information about your world and let them develop their characters' personalities a bit before you start.  (Let them change the personalities if they have an epiphany in play.)  This information will make it much easier to craft story hooks for the characters.

Adventure Seed:  A band of notorious bandits once served the Gnoll-Baron of Foulsear.  Since his assassination, they have turned against one another, each seeking a massive cache of treasure reputedly hidden by the murderous gnoll.  Perhaps the scrap of pachment that kobold carried is a clue?
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Offline Veretrix

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Re: Engaging/Balanced Encounters For a Cleric/Ninja Duo?
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2015, 09:37:58 PM »
Battles involving small PC parties can be very 'swingy" at low levels:  Any decent challenge poses the risk of the party falling to a few bad rolls.  To minimize that risk while they get a level or two under their belts, avoid "hack and slash" adventures.  Give them a social conflict, a mystery, or a horror adventure, where fewer of the challenges place the characters in mortal peril.  To bolster the party, you may also want to add a supporting NPC or two to serve as redshirts.  (Just be careful that these NPCs don't overshadow the main characters.)

While I'm generally a Pathfinder guy, you might want to look at how 5th edition D&D gives each character personality traits, bonds, ideals, and flaws.  Give the players some information about your world and let them develop their characters' personalities a bit before you start.  (Let them change the personalities if they have an epiphany in play.)  This information will make it much easier to craft story hooks for the characters.

Adventure Seed:  A band of notorious bandits once served the Gnoll-Baron of Foulsear.  Since his assassination, they have turned against one another, each seeking a massive cache of treasure reputedly hidden by the murderous gnoll.  Perhaps the scrap of pachment that kobold carried is a clue?
Thank you, those were very insightful tips. My beginning adventure will definitely be against quite a few kobolds (about 6, possibly more before they get to the next village), but the NPCs that are with them should be able to provide sufficient help and plenty of "alternate targets" for the kobolds.
Ideally, once they find out the kobolds' connection to a demonic cult, they will probably start asking around for information, possibly sparking other side adventures in the process, such as "steal this thingy or I won't tell you what I know" and so on.
I am familiar with 5e a great deal, as those are the books one of my other friends owns (not in this adventuring duo). I encourage that they can come up with flaws, traits, etc. but I should probably put more emphasis on it, and even reward good roleplaying like 5e does.

Offline Wulfhere

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Re: Engaging/Balanced Encounters For a Cleric/Ninja Duo?
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2015, 02:04:13 PM »
Let’s look at what we already have to work from, starting with the two player characters.  The players chose a tengu and a ninja, which suggests that they might enjoy some Oriental elements mixed into their fantasy. 

The presence of the Tengu priest raises a few more questions:  Is he local, or did he travel from another land?  Are tengu common in the campaign area or are they rare?  Do they share the same religion as the land’s other inhabitants?  What sort of reputation do they enjoy?  Are they accepted socially, or seen as some sort of outsider?

My suggestion:  Tengu live in densely-forested valleys near the coast.  Inhabitants of the coast’s rural fishing villages revere them as benevolent trickster spirits, offering gifts of fish and carven shells at the edge of the tengus’ forests.  The tengu watch over the surrounding lands, driving away other forest dwellers that would threaten the villages of fisherfolk. 

Other villages are less friendly toward the tengu.  Woodcutters and charcoal burners who venture too close to the tengus’ hidden villages become the target of cruel pranks.  Those who persist may disappear entirely, slain to protect the location of the tengus’ homes.


Fetchlings are another unusual race.  Do they travel between the dimensions, or do some fetchlings dwell in the campaign area?

My suggestion:  Fetchlings are known locally as “Kagirei” (Pronounced “Kajeerey”, meaning “shadow spirits”.  Its plural is Kagiru).  In local superstition, they are believed to possess the ability to speak with spirits of the dead.  Kagiru dwell in human villages, where they are often called upon to assist during funerals and rites to honor the dead.  It is seen as bad luck to interact with them under other circumstances, so the villagers often act as if they aren’t even there. 

The Kagirei trace their ancestry to a shadow plane, a distorted mirror of the characters’ reality.  A realm of perpetual gloom and mists, it can only be accessed a few times each year, when ancient Torii are transformed into gates to that sinister dimension.


Since you’re using the Pathfinder rules, charts of suitable monsters can be found at http://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/bestiary-hub .
« Last Edit: August 11, 2015, 02:09:16 PM by Wulfhere »
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Re: Engaging/Balanced Encounters For a Cleric/Ninja Duo?
« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2015, 11:46:39 AM »
didnt read any of thread but have them be the Inquisition,ferreting out witches,vampires,werewolves ,cultests
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Re: Engaging/Balanced Encounters For a Cleric/Ninja Duo?
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2015, 06:40:46 PM »
Read all of the thread.
I'd like to echo some of the suggestions voiced, and add a few of mine:
> the duo should have a previously developed relationship; I find the idea of the ninja having been undercover in the church, or even a member of the church's less-than-official arm (hiding as an unassuming member of the parish in front of outsiders, and many members of the church as well) - hence "justice", goes well with LN.
> D&D can be very swingy at low levels, and PCs don't have many tricks up their sleeves. Give them also non-combat encounters worth XP.
> With fewer players, you are free to explore their story more in depth, and develop the characters more than if you had to shepherd six.
> Don't make random encounters, plan all. Simple as that.
> Concerning combative encounters, be wary of creatures that possess crowd control capabilities, or require lots of burst damage to take down. Ideal enemies are those that can be tricked, goaded, kited, back-stabbed, misled, peppered with arrows from afar... or negotiated with.
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Offline Murometz

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Re: Engaging/Balanced Encounters For a Cleric/Ninja Duo?
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2015, 06:58:01 PM »
Quote
Read all of the thread.
I'd like to echo some of the suggestions voiced, and add a few of mine:
> the duo should have a previously developed relationship; I find the idea of the ninja having been undercover in the church, or even a member of the church's less-than-official arm (hiding as an unassuming member of the parish in front of outsiders, and many members of the church as well) - hence "justice", goes well with LN.
> D&D can be very swingy at low levels, and PCs don't have many tricks up their sleeves. Give them also non-combat encounters worth XP.
> With fewer players, you are free to explore their story more in depth, and develop the characters more than if you had to shepherd six.
> Don't make random encounters, plan all. Simple as that.
> Concerning combative encounters, be wary of creatures that possess crowd control capabilities, or require lots of burst damage to take down. Ideal enemies are those that can be tricked, goaded, kited, back-stabbed, misled, peppered with arrows from afar... or negotiated with.

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