Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Warchief's Council Room

The Warchief's Council Room is another confusing muddle of an encounter.

The squares marked "T" are a trap. When the trap is sprung, a portcullis drops into place ahead of the party - that is, stopping them from entering this area. An alarm also sounds in the rooms behind the portcullis, alerting the hobgoblins within.

The first observation to make is that, as written, the hobgoblins have no way of lifting their own portcullis other than breaking it down. Theoretically PCs triggering the trap can happily walk off again, content that they've locked the hobgoblins into their own rooms. But let's assume there's some hidden mechanism the hobs know about that's not noted in the encounter.

The portcullis is a waste of space. The hobs inside don't have any archers. It's not like they can snipe at the PCs as they try to break down the grate. In fact, if they emerge from their rooms at all prior to the portcullis being broken, they risk being picked off by ranged attacks from the PC.

So the room ends up being a straight fight, with an annoying delay at the start. It's almost identical to the Hobgoblin Barracks, with the Warcaster replaced by a Warchief. The Warchief is pretty nasty in this kind of enclosed space, as he has a rechargable burst attack that shifts all his allies up to three squares, and when he hits with an attack he offers all his allies +2 to hit that target until the end of his next turn.

It's hard not to think that the trap was intended to be on the other side of the gate, sealing the PCs in once they trigger it, rather than locking them out. With no avenue of escape, and possibly some players caught outside the portcullis, this would be a much more interesting (and lethal) battle.


Rob G said...

Worst trap ever? Setting a portcullis to bar people from entry just seems silly without some sort of way to punish them.

I sort of see the logic from the hobgoblins side, preventing unwanted people from sneaking into their council room. It'd be even more logical if it was a bedroom.

Perhaps use some archers and two portcullises to prevent the PCs from moving in any direction until they lift/break one? Or just ignore the entire portcullis.

Greg Tannahill said...

I'm really not sure what's going on. Another interpretation is that the portcullis comes down, and then the hobs from the Barracks come out and smash the PCs against the portcullis while the hobs inside stab them through the bars, but that's a pretty vicious encounter to throw at a party that's done nothing more punishment-worthy than fail a DC 25 Perception test.

Probably just as well most groups skip these rooms.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just found the Blog and am very happily reading my way through. It's not mentioned in the text, but there's what sure looks like a level sticking out of the wall just to the North of the door of the sire room. I also thought the room was awfully odd as originally designed, so I figured that once the PCs got inside, the Hobgobs could manually drop (or raise!) the portcullis using that lever. It made the fight MUCH more interesting as the PCs easily detected the pressure plate and felt very clever for getting past it only to have the gate drop when the fight started. It worked well to increase the tension of the otherwise unremarkable fight, as well as give a sense that the monsters had some tactics beyond just sitting around waiting to get killed. (And, FWIW, I just excised the entire upstairs cave section except the cistern/water source, it made no sense whatsoever...)

Thanks for this, it's been very interesting to read another take on it, even a couple months after we ran it, it's been very helpful in thinking about how to tackle making some changes in H2 that'll help with playability.


By The Sword said...

Have two sets of portcullis like Rob G said and then arm some of the hobs with reach weapons.

Of course if you want to play Kalarel and his cronies as being as incompetent as the module's designers, you can leave everything as is, including the 'ambushing' kobolds waiting on the wrong side of the rocks and looking in the direction opposite the players.