Minotaur Droppings and Player Positioning

15 February, 2010

Unfortunately, this post is not about minotaur poop (directly, anyway).

I DM’ed two battle encounters last Saturday. In both, my Minotaur Berserker dropped to “dying” within the first few turns. He made his death saves, got stabilized. He nearly got coup de graced, but I let another PC use an immediate reaction 5 minutes later, because he said he’d forgotten about it. But generally, he was okay, other than the fact that I might as well have been afflicting him with the Stun status for over 50% of each battle.

After the game, I logged onto AIM at my computer to unwind. Seven PCs is slightly more tiring than normal. The Minotaur IMs me, asking why he drops faster than a fat kid after five minutes of exercise (poetic license here). And so, I examined the situation for him.

First fight, he started tactically separated from allies, across a small river. There were two enemies in the distance, two armored Empire elves, busy slaughtering fleeing rebels. “Die, rebel scum!” As soon as he engaged one, rapping him soundly atop the head, the two flanked him. With some help from a nearby level 10 controller, the two level 8 brutes beat the crap out of poor level 10 Genloneras. Next!

Second fight, he rolled well in initiative and tactically separated himself from his allies. Soon, he was flanked by two level 12 soldiers who beat the crap out of poor level 10 Genloneras. Whoa, whoa, wait, backtrack.. the rogue rolled highest and moved up first. The Minotaur followed. Those soldiers had first flanked the rogue, threatening to hurt him. The rogue, on his turn, moved 10 or so squares back towards where the party was moving. The Minotaur did/could not follow. They moved to flank Genloneras. They commenced the beating the crap out of.

So as a DM, what am I going to do? Unfortunately, nothing. I tunnel-vision during most encounter battles. What does this mean? It means I eye the map during the baddies’ turn, figure a place that is tactically sound to move and attack. If a creature’s marked, that creature attacks the tank. Otherwise, they try to flank someone who’s not as armored as a tank. I don’t try focusing on specific PCs, unless I’m running creatures with that as their prerogative. I have enough to think about.

“Listen, man. You gotta stick with the party. The baddies are attacking you only ‘cuz you’re the juiciest target and you’re consistently out in the open.”

If you’re flanked and restrained by two Eladrins with swords that turn into writhing, privacy-invading entanglement, you’ve got to ask yourself… why are you in that situation in the first place?

Maybe you could have crossed the river. After you roll high in initiative, you can still choose to delay, waiting for the tank or other strikers to position themselves. The +2 bonus to attack rolls from Combat Advantage helps a lot in 4e, when at all levels, all enemies generally have a 40-60% chance to hit. So, if you solo, put your back to a wall, man.

But this is DM Point-of-view. Is it different on the other side of the screen? Am I full of droppings?

-Lancar

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