Reflections on a Majestic Beat-down

I’ll be the first to say it about yesterday’s game: We got lucky.

The party is not high level. We’ve got a mix of characters from, I think, 4th to maybe 6th level, though it may well be tighter than that, perhaps even only 4th and 5th level. 

That’s a fun place to play in, I think. But we’re limited. Hit Points for fighter-types in the range of 8-10 as a base, probably +10 to +20 for CON bonuses, and then 20 to 25 more for level advancement. So on the order of 38 to 55 HP. 

Case in point: Mark Bludiell, 4th level Paladin at the start of the game, had 38 HP.

But going against a 15th level fighter (or presumably a fighter)? Especially when we didn’t know it? Yeesh. He had about 110 HP, three attacks. But for whatever reason – maybe because it was supposed to be a peaceful negotiation – he was only AC 16. He could have easily been much higher than this. 

He also didn’t make use of special abilities. He could have had a whole raft of nifty stuff. Five attribute bonuses (fine, whatever) or Feats. He didn’t use Second Wind. He seems to have been a bog-standard Champion, but it could have been a lot worse. A few magic items with “smite-ish” abilities would have rocked our worlds.

One of the ways it could have been worse? His lieutenants and guards all died with one or two blows. I mean, when our party hits, we tend to hit hard (10-20 HP per turn). But that’ll still put a level 3 guy down in a blow. Damage doesn’t scale up much in D&D5, but (for example) I think if a Paladin expends a 4th level spell slot on Holy Might or Godly Smite or whatever he’s adding 4d8-5d8 to the damage, which is probably on the order of 1d8-1d10 (sword) +3 to+5 (strength) +0-2 for magic bonus. That’s 1d8+3 to 1d10+7 per hit, more for a critical. Average 11-17 per sword stroke; magic and powers compound this from “bad” to “Ow, my leg is gone!” pretty fast.

Still, our Sheriff, of 15th level? Surrounded by utter mooks. Had he a pair of lieutenants with him, instead of two guards and two foppish nobles, we’d have likely been well and truly fed to the Cuisinart. 

As it was, Mark went down hard, another character got hit for something like 35 HP, maybe, plus a few more desultory wounds. We’re out of healing and need a rest – badly.

And we won’t get it. There are over a dozen guys still at large just within the castle. At least eight to ten of them are armed with what +Rob Conley referred to as “Knight-killer” crossbows, which I assume do huge damage, and our only hope is to be missed a lot.

Worse yet, we probably can’t take ’em down one at a time, though we can probably try. I know Keyar is a hell of an archer; Mark isn’t awful, and now he gets two attacks as well. So perhaps two to four wounded (and because of the D&D HP model, that doesn’t do anything to their combat effectiveness) or incapacitated (which does).

We need to beat feet, rest and recuperate, and then come back. We need to find allies to help take some of the foot soldiers down. We need to prevent word of our little escapade from hitting the road to the City State too soon. We probably need to get word to the gathering led by Baron Theodar of Greenstream, which might net us some help.

And we need to find the clergy of Mitra, free them, and most importantly, figure out what Herone’s role in all of this is. 

Because honestly, for all that this town likely needed a good cleansing, my marked half-elf’s Quest was almost certainly not to overthrow Tain on behalf of Mitra.

Though it’s probably better than the alternative. The Regent of the Overlord, Myrmidon of Set and general bad guy, probably deserves to be overthrown. But I think this is all surface stuff. The deeper currents are something other than power struggles of the human kingdoms, I suspect.

12 thoughts on “Reflections on a Majestic Beat-down

  1. Heh heh heh. Yeah, this is why I blasphemed OOC so loudly when the shooting started. In my limited experience, you can get away with a lot of sass with the powers that be in Rob's world — the big guys often just tell you to shut up and go away. But once you draw steel, that's crossing a line. I knew a sheriff in the Wilderlands would be a tough fight. I didn't know how tough though — I was guessing about 10th level; turns out I was off by five! Not sure how we're going to get out of it. That's why I made sure to finish the sheriff off once he was down. If Vognur's going to be hanged, he's going to be hanged for killing a sheriff, not just for rebellious behavior.

    1. Chris: I kinda *wanted* to try and beat the guy down, in my heart, but I was motivated politically to not do it. It never occurred to me for a moment the guy would be a Level 15 monstrosity. I was not sorry you gave him a coup de grace.

      He did hit me first, though – I tried to get him to yield (failed, and no surprise) with Command, but when that didn't work, I wasn't going to attack him unless he attacked me. Which he did. Effectively.

  2. I don't know that his AC would have necessarily been much higher than 16. Plate mail is only AC 18 and it costs 1500 gp which is a bajillion times more than chain mail (roughly). That's one of my favorite things about 5e, actually; AC doesn't scale out of control and a bunch of lower level characters can potentially kill a much higher level opponent.

    1. My Paladin is AC 20 from plate and a shield, and he's level 4 (now 5). A high level fighter could easily be sporting (say) +2 splint armor for AC 19, or +2 half plate and DEX 14 for the same effect. And that's without a shield (a good assumption).

      That being said, basically you're right, that AC of 16-19 is still considered hefty in 5e, and we proved the design goal of 5e in that five 4-5th level guys did, in fact take down a much more powerful foe.

    2. Oh yeah, no doubt! The fact that you could afford plate at level 5 is pretty impressive though. I can only just now get it at 7, but it will bring me up to AC 21, which is insane.

  3. I must admit I got lucky and hit with 6 of 10 arrows shot–while you took the beating. That fifth level for a one act wonder that is my archer really used the whole 2 attacks a round. But, lets not celebrate until we've looted the castle and broken free. I'm betting-what, about 5-10 4th to 8th level dudes plus a barracks full of first and second armed with the aforementioned knight killer crossbows (+4 to hit-armor piercing and something like 5d4 damage)..

    1. You may be right – but I got the feeling that the opposition was fewer in number. That being said, our total lack of recon will mean that if we're going to take down a lot of opposition, we'd best do a bit of gankery!

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