Rappan Athuk Encounter Cynetics


Hi there. I'm currently running RA (PFRPG version) and I'm not sure if I'm doing it well.  I was wandering if any of you would have noticed that encounters in level 2B (Demon's Gullet) are rather easy, specially the random encounters. My group consists of a Tiefling Summoner (level 5), an Orc (still not) mounted barbarian, a dwarven Forgemaster (lvl 4) and a gnome Grenadier (lvl 4). On occasion the group is joined by a human monk (lvl 4) and an eleven earth elementalist (lvl 4), until now never the two of them together at the same session. 

While the barbarian and the Forgemaster are both fairly we'll designed, they are not fully optimized and the rest of the group is really unoptimized. So far, they've fared well, barring their trouble finding secret doors and picking locks. Ii have noticed that random encounters rolled in this level do not seem to affect their resources, save for a bunch of stirges rolled in the shriekers' room. Most of the time there are only 3 or 4 players at the table which should account for a higher difficulty. 

Today the reached the room with the black skelly and his buddies. At the table there were only 3 players.  As they needed to be noisy in order to reach the place I rolled for random encounters with the result of 4 zombies. I decided to place them in the rotting coffins where the three sarcophagi lie. The found the zombies before actually examining the sarcophagi and lead the critters to the entrance of the room obliterating them. After that, they had the barbarian (escorted by the summoner's Eidolon) open the sarcophagi while summoner and gnome stayed AT&T he threshold. The black skelly's presence scared the gnome and the Eidolon away, though I allowed the summoner a caster level check to give it another try after loosing the first turn. The battle was kinda tough but only for the barbarian, who lost 16 HP and 11 STR to the monsters but eventually the heroes prevailed. 

I noticed that most of the Demons Gullet randome ncounters don't mean a challenge for my party but I guess there are other things to consider:

We play theatre oft he mind combat. I have a basic scheme of the combat map in my head and describe everything to the players. This might lead me to inaccurate ruling and hence a tendency to favor the PCs. 
I realized I probably should not have allowed the Eidolon a second chance of not fleeing. 
I might not be playing the random encounters correctly, either their stat blocks or the timing fort he encounter. For instance, the usually find their "encounter" packed together when there is nothing saying that they cannot come from different directions. 
Any ideas? I don't want to kill PCs I just want my players to feel the tension...

The Demon's Gullet is an area I've run three times, and none of those times have I got it to "feel" threatening (regardless of what monsters and traps I threw at my parties).

In my last game I did the opposite, I scaled back the encounters and made the level as bleak and empty as I thought I could get away with. I kept the main encounters (Yaza, the skeleton, the gnolls) and ditched the remainder, as well as most of the random encounters. The level also recieved an aesthetic change, with rusty and abandoned machinery added everywhere, hinting at some long-forgotten undertaking.

The players moved through it feeling uneasy, and I considered that as close as I was going to get to a win. Some monsters compliment this well, such as rust monsters, mimics and oozes.

I'd advise saving your energy for level 3C. That, I feel, has far more potential for straight-up danger.

brvheart's picture

Your players may be a bit high of level for 2B. I think mine were 2-3rd level. And if a few of them died? And? I think these 3 levels were the most deadly for my players starting out at level 1. I think they lost somewhere between 6-8 characters in the three levels. Not sure, a few may have died later as that was about a year ago now. Total deaths are now at 14. This I think has been one of the most deadliest campaigns I have run even for RA. It has slowed down though. 11 of the deaths were largely caused due to one player being too agressive and not running when needed and insisting on clearing levels. A bad thing to do in RA! The group is now 8th level and exploring level 8. Since he left at the end of February there has only been two deaths.

I am aware that the players's characters are slightly above the level's level (sorry for the redundance), but still there are usually only four people playing at my table... Curiously enough, though, the last day the Tiefling Summoner fell to one of the black candles in certain room (don't want to post many spoilers here). It was a rather cool death. He insisted on exploring that room and on doing something with the candles, so the rest of the party waited for him outside, where they encountered a bunch of stirges. The Tiefling failed the fortitude save and the other still fought for a few rounds more. When they found their companion lying on the ground they did not want to enter the room, for the didn't know what was happening. I called for new INIT. rolls and had the guy roll for stabilization. When the rest of the party actually pulled him with a "lasso" he was already dead. 

This triggered a series of sub-par decisions by the remaining members and the session concluded with a TPK, including the Tiefling's Player's new character!


By the way here's a link to that campaign log.

brvheart's picture

I see the players have learned that outside the dungeon can be a very dangerous place around RA!

aclatworthy I ran 2b the same way my second time, very abandoned.  It was much better!  Tense and eerie, not much dice rolling, but the party did get seperated by a portcullis, and one dwarf character got burnt very badly in a certain room with buttons and platforms....

Seriously though enanus your party is just a little to high level for 2b that's all.

silverhair2048's picture

Here's a suggestion for Level 2 Marthek's and Ambro's Base.  In room 13 which is Saracek's room if you leave it as just him your group will likely walk all over him.  I suggest a couple of Black skeletons or even Amber Skeletons.  Both are found in Tome of Horrors 4.  That will allow Saracek to use his spells to good effect.

When my players got to Martheks lair (Room 5) I had some bodyguards for him in the way of 4 Black Skeletons and 2 Amber Skeletons.  My players afterward told me they really enjoyed the fight.  It was memorable but not overly so.