A Call for Heroes – Ultimate Dungeon Delve

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on July 9, 2009

If you want to survive any D&D adventure you need to plan ahead. The better your advanced planning the more likely your chances of survival, and in the case of the Ultimate Dungeon Delve, the better your chance of victory. At this year’s GenCon they are running the next Ultimate Dungeon Delve: Fall of the Tower at Windrock. I’m signed up to play and I’m looking for an adventuring company.

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about when I say Ultimate Dungeon Delve you can read all about them at Wizards of the Coast. But in a nutshell here’s how it works. You create a 6th level PC and form a party of five adventurers. The delve consists of six encounters and you have 45 minutes in which to complete each one. If you don’t complete an encounter in 45 minutes or everyone is killed you loose, game over. For those who complete the entire delve they stand to win fabulous prizes.

Part of the fun of GenCon, or any gaming convention, is meeting new people. Normally I wouldn’t have any interest in forming an adventuring party ahead of time; I’d just show up at the Con at the designated time and look for the first empty seat. However, the Ultimate Dungeon Delve is not only a game but a competition and I want to win. Or at the very least I don’t want to loose horribly.

A few days ago I read Dave Chalker’s Ultimate Dungeon Delve experience at Origins 2009 over at Critical-Hits. This was a real eye-opener for me. Before reading his article I hadn’t even considered trying to coordinate a group before GenCon. But I’m of a very different mind-set now.

I want to do whatever I can to ensure that I’m part of a balanced adventuring group come GenCon. Dave’s party didn’t make it past the first encounter of their delve and I don’t want that to be the case for me. Dave offers a lot of suggestions on how to survive the delve. The part that really struck a chord with me was his advice on party make-up. He suggests the following party composition.

  • defender
  • striker
  • striker
  • striker
  • leader

So what I’m looking for are a few heroes willing to put together a party consisting of these roles.

If you’re going to GenCon and have Fall of the Tower at Windrock scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 13 (event RPGA0905740) I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or email me.

If you’ve participated in the Ultimate Dungeon Delve at Origins I’d appreciate hearing all about your experiences. Specifically what pointers might you offer those of us who will be attempting the next delve at GenCon. I’d also appreciate everyone’s input on character creation, whether you played in the Ultimate Dungeon Delve at Origins or not. What kind of characters do you think will be valuable? What feats and powers would you take? Over at Mike’s Mind he recently put together an excellent Player Shopping List. If you have something else that you think is a necessity for this kind of adventure please share it with us.

At this point I’m starved for information and want to hear everything our readers may have to share on this topic. When I finally have my character built I’ll post him for your feedback and ridicule.

1 Toldain July 9, 2009 at 10:31 am

As to group composition, it worries me a bit to leave out a controller. I think the idea is that controllers, as with mezzers in MMOs, slow the combat down to win. But in this case, a slow win is just the same as losing.

However, don’t controllers also have good damage output if they focus on AEs? I will have to think on this.

Finally, if I were running these, I’d be tempted to throw in an encounter with a lot of nasty minions, just to make sure the group has a way to deal with them.
.-= Toldain´s last blog ..Time is My Enemy =-.

2 Ameron July 9, 2009 at 12:10 pm

All valid points. The only situation in which I think a controller would really make a big difference is if an encounter is teeming with minions or has monstrous swarms. But even then other classes have powers that can target multiple opponents. There are ways to get by without a controller if you plan for it. As you said, a slow win doesn’t help in this circumstance. I’m not saying I’d refuse to put a controller in the mix, I just think there are better ways to accomplish the bigger objective.

3 Bartoneus July 9, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Ameron, I’m not sure what our plans are yet for the Ult. Dungeon Delve, I know I’m planning at least one run with a full party already, but I might want to jump into your group too if I can! 🙂

I’m leaving my GenCon schedule as open as possible though, so I can’t make a firm commitment yet but at least keep me in mind and maybe things will line up at the right times.
.-= Bartoneus´s last blog ..4E: Psion – by the Numbers =-.

4 Curunel July 9, 2009 at 2:59 pm

My 2 copper pieces worth.
I was the cleric of the first group out at Origins-apparently the group mentioned in the article for the DSSSL structure though I need to point out that we were a pick-up group. 3 Strikers and a Healing Leader are an excellent start with either a controller or defender making sense give the encounters (there were opportunities for area of effect powers to be very useful but the fighters extra hp and surges are also useful ). Obviously a mix of ranged and melee is optimum. However everyone should be able to do both (bows, magic thrown weapons, reapers touch).
The UDD is set up as a war of attrition. The encounters are designed to sap resources (including time, surges, items, dailies, etc.). E.g. there was a widespread terrain effect not mentioned in the article that did damage per turn so even if the creatures don’t do too much damage, just playing with them is painful.
My role was party resource manager. I kept a general idea of how the encounter time was progressing and more importantly to prod when things were slowing down. One example of the benefit: in one encounter I saw that we were running out of time so I called out for the party to start popping dailies… we made it with 8 seconds. Since I did the healing I also had some insight into damage status and surges remaining in the party so I granted, for instance, non-surge healing to someone that was low on surges. What I found was that the defender was fine with granted healing surges and triggered second wind. However, near the end the melee strikers started to appreciate temporary hp and hp grants without surges.
Operationally, standard efficiency advice applies. Always roll attack and damage together and know your attk and dmg mods. so you can quickly call out the rolls. Know what you will be doing before it is your turn including planning for contingencies (perhaps the player before you KOed your target) so you can act quickly. Communicate early on with the leader when you need what they can deliver so they can plan. etc. Don’t waste resources, but don’t hoard them either. Keeping your dailies ready as time runs out on encounter 3 helps no one.
Finally, the UDD did a good job of testing a range of skills and abilities in so you want to avoid taking, for instance, 3 rogues. On the other hand, do not play a class that you have not tried before. There is little time to learn once the clock starts.

14th 7pm
P.S. It would be unwise to assume that you can take a 5 minute break after every encounter.

5 Dave T. Game July 9, 2009 at 6:09 pm

I expected an encounter with a mass of minions too, but it didn’t come, and the controller (an Invoker) was dead weight. As Ameron says, just be sure one or two PCs have decent multi-target powers for the few encounters where there are minions.

…Unless, of course, the RPGA guys who read my report specifically decided to alter the GenCon version 🙂
.-= Dave T. Game´s last blog ..4E: Psion – by the Numbers =-.

6 Ameron July 9, 2009 at 7:56 pm

If you’re free I’d be happy to have you join the team and conquer the ultimate dungeon delve.

Wow! What a write up. Thanks for sharing all of this. It gives me even more to think about when I’m creating my character and putting together my team. Your advice about using Daily powers is something all players should keep in mind whether they’re playing in a delve or not.

@Dave T. Game
Your write up was great. I agree that a controller is the role I think we’re least likely to need. The Dragonborn’s breath weapon is the most practical way to emulate the controller’s larger area of effect spells/powers in my opinion.

@Bartoneus / Curunel / Dave T. Game
If you three don’t mind, I may shoot you a few private emails if I have any additional questions. Thanks for reporting and sharing your experiences. I think it will make my gaming experience more enjoyable.

7 Jon August 5, 2009 at 12:24 pm

Hi Ameron,

I came across this randomly (thanks google!) but am facing a similar problem. I signed up for the Aug 13th 1 pm delve with my brother, but we are only 2. I came to the same conclusion that the optimal party composition would be L-D-S-S-S with Controller being too slow. I’ve built a Leader/Defender combo that I think work well together and we were planning to each build a Striker as back-up in case those roles are already taken.

If you are still looking for players, we would be happy to join your group and I would up for discussing builds over e-mail.

What I have so far is a Warforged Battlerager Fighter and a Dragonborn Inspiring Warlord. I think the temp hp is still good despite the recent gimping, and the breath weapon along with some carefully chosen Fighter powers should help with minion control in the absence of a Controller.

For Strikers, I was thinking of a Bugbear Avenger using a damage-augmented Mordenkrad, or a two-blade frost-based Ranger. But I’m not sold on either of those yet. One option would be to create multiple Warforged characters and have the Warlord wear a Reparation Apparatus (+2d6 whenever healing warforged).

Let me know if you’re interested in combining forces. If possible, send me an e-mail rather than a message since I’m not familiar with this board. Thanks!


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