Lair Assault Lessons: Episode Three

This will be my final lessons learned post regarding the Lair Assault, Forge of the Dawn Titan module. Between this final post, and first and second lessons learned posts, we have learned quite a bit from Lair Assault! Here are my final Lair Assault musings… at least until we have a new module to discuss.

Players Need to Help the DM

Encouraging players to do what they can to help the Game Master run the game is always a good way to promote a higher quality DnD gaming experience for everyone involved. This is especially true in Lair Assault.  I am a firm believer that Lair Assault is currently the most stressful play format in Dungeons and Dragons. In this environment, players need to help the DM in every way that they can. For example, do not…

  • Retcon your character actions when your turn is over.
  • Flip fortune cards at the wrong times.
  • Attempt to manipulate the rules to the point of breaking. E.g., Insist that it makes sense to use acrobatics to climb a wall or “acrobatically flip” 20 feet vertically into the air.
  • Don’t expect “house rules” to be incorporated. In strict public play, the rules can only be bent so far.
  • Suck as a player, in general. Across the DnD blogosphere, there are literally hundreds of articles dedicated to this topic.

When we are all on the clock in a module that notoriously runs long, the players and the Dungeon Master simply do not have time for these kinds of arguments.

Now is Not the Time to Learn How to Play 4th Edition

The Lair Assault play format is for 4th Edition veterans ONLY. If you are a 3rd Ed. (or any other edition) fanboy and want to “try out” Lair Assault, just don’t. Please, just don’t. And if you still go, for the love of Gary Gygax DO NOT question and complain about how inadequate the 4th edition rules are every round.

If this happens to me at any future Lair Assault table, I reserve the right to “zero edition” kill PCs outright. *rolls behind screen* “Ohh… I’m so sorry… as your character fell off the platform, his chin became stuck between the platform chain and the platform edge… and because of the weight of your plate mail, you were instantly decapitated… so it doesn’t even matter that you are a Revenant… you’re dead, dude…”

After writing the above paragraph, I feel better already. How do you like 1st edition now, punk!?!?

Seriously, Some Players Just Won’t Die

If you’ve lost, just concede defeat. Yes, I know all the zombie parties have a huge death saving throw bonus, but please don’t make me grind through all 15 of your healing surges. Don’t you remember how this turned out last week?? Oh, I see you have that belt that gives you resist 10 to all damage when you are below zero hit points… well… that just takes all the fun out of trying to get your dazed zombie ass to reach a negative bloodied value. (>.>)

Of course, as players learn the ins and outs of the lair, they will optimize their characters to overcome the challenge. At some point however, player optimization nerfs the module so bad that it may not be fun to run. For example, I have heard that there is a build that can resist 24 fire. I also heard that there is a build that can effectively resist most of the damage dealt in this mod. As I mentioned in the Lair Assault Tactics for Dungeon Masters post, this is why I find myself gravitating toward creatures with untyped damage, just to keep players on their toes.

The Lair Gets Old, Fast

The grind of Lair Assault wears on everyone, especially the DM. I would say that after my 4th run, it was borderline not fun any more. By the 6th run, my obligation to my FLGS to run the lair during my designated time slot honestly began to feel like work. And getting tired of a mod certainly doesn’t help make its stresses, aggravations, or challenges any easier.

Rumors of the Next Assault

Ahh, but wait, there’s more Lair Assault on the horizon. Rumor has it that the next DnD Lair will be “Talon of Umberlee”. Stores should be registering for the next event soon, so I’m sure we’ll know before the end of October. In the mean time, however, here are the sources of my rumor mill:

DMs, do you need to vent?

I apologize if this post was a bit of a vent, but I needed it. Go on, let it all out. You’ll feel better afterwards, I promise. Pride award goes to the most creative “zero ed” method to kill a player in the forge of the dawn titan!

2 comments for “Lair Assault Lessons: Episode Three

  1. Gracchus
    October 18, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Good grief – you had an Edition Warrior show up for Lair Assault? Ugh.

    Your post highlights my primary concern about this format – the adversarial relationship between the DM and the players. The players are going to learn from their mistakes and are going to try to squeeze out every possible advantage so they can squash the mod. Heck, the existence of the “Speed Demon” glory reward encourages it. Unfortunately, that’s what is going the make the DM’s experience painful in an adversarial game; if the players are owning the mod, the DM is the guy feeling that pain.

    Having this Lair so fire-focused was a bit of a mistake (it fits the theme, sure, but it makes life sooooo easy for the heroes). I’m hoping that later lairs mix it up a bit.

  2. Sunyaku
    October 18, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    I should also note that I forgot to include a section– “Aboslute Power Corrupts”. In one of the previous Lair Assault Lessons Learned posts, someone commented that their DM was arbitrarily (and illegally) nerfing character abilities. DMs can “bend the rules to the point of breaking” in much the same way as the players can… but either way, the game just isn’t fun any more. People become so focussed on their own success that their judgment becomes compromised.

    That said, I think the Lair Assault format is a grueling test of a DM’s fairness, judgement, and negotiation skills… not to mention knowledge of the rules.
    Sunyaku recently posted..Lair Assault Tactics for Dungeon Masters

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