Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ramping Up the Challenges in Barrowmaze for Pathfinder

So far I have run 6 games of Pathfinder using the Barrowmaze megadungeon.  I have been running the module's monster encounters pretty much straight out of the book, with one exception where I switched out 6 Giant Centipedes for a Centipede Swarm.  That proved to create a tactical challenge for the players which isn't something that happens often with most encounters.  I think the problem is that in a standard dungeon-crawl, with 10-foot wide hallways, the combats aren't very dynamic when the players can keep the bulk of the monsters at bay, only fighting a few at a time due to the choke-points created by fighting in door-ways.

Another problem I'm now encountering is that even though the 3 characters in the game are now 3rd Level, they dish out  enough damage to instantly kill most 1 to 2 Hit Dice monsters in one hit.  This despite the fact I having decided to maximize the hit points of all the monsters after Game 3.  It makes the battles short and not very interesting, yet the players are raking in XP for what I consider to be easy combats.  The PC's are a melee-oriented group (Barbarian, Cleric and Monk) and their AC's are high (around 18 to 19).

I addressed my frustration and asked for suggestions on the Pathfinder G+ community and received some nice tips and tricks to spice up the combats.  This will require me to revamp many of the monsters in the module in order to spice up the challenge of the combat.  The fact that much of the dungeon is focused on undead monsters and they recently found a +1 Mace of Undead Bane enables the group to do much more damage to the dungeons primary inhabitants.

Some of the Ideas I received:

  • Use of incorporeal undead (i.e. Shadows).  The incorporeal ability allows the undead to only take half damage and they can pass through walls and bypass armor. Also the Strength drain from a Shadow should put some fear into them.
  • Use of energy-draining undead (i.e. Wights).  Negative levels for the win!
  • Have the standard skeletons also use ranged weapons so even though the party has the front rank pinned at a doorway engaged in melee, the remaining skeletons towards the back can still attack the party.
  • Use different types of monsters not affected by the Cleric's channel energy ability and their new Undead Bane mace, (i.e. non-undead monsters).
  • Increase the Hit Dice and abilities of the undead by applying the Advanced simple template to make them tougher.
I have about three weeks before the next game session, so I will be going through the Barrowmaze module and making such changes.

1 comment:

  1. Hi!
    Just want to say that i enjoy your Barrowmaze session reports a lot :)
    I am also considering including Barrowmaze in my own current Pathfinder campaign, that also has a definite old school flavour (sandbox with hometown and homebrew megadungeon).
    So your page is a good source of inspiration in that regard.