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Exasperated Rants

Challenge of the Construct

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A while back, I wanted to try something new and different in my game. The idea I had come up with was pretty silly at first, but it was surprisingly well received.

The party had just entered what they believed was a demonic stronghold in a volcano. What they didn't realize at the time, was that the demons had taken the place by force from a somewhat obscure group known as The Order of the Cog. Think of the Eberron campaign setting. One of my favorite parts of the Eberron setting is the seamless mix of magic and technology. It is sometimes difficult to tell where one ends and the next begins. The order who had lost their stronghold are pretty much that. The party managed to learn about them as they worked through the stronghold when they reached a sealed door and a scrying pool. The pool allowed them to look at another section of the volcano, and would allow them to link up with and control a number of constructs on the other side.

The constructs were deep within the volcano where the heat was too great for flesh and blood to survive. The Order used them for maintenance on a machine which drew power from the volcano. The demons tried to corrupt them, but failed to turn the constructs into anything useful. The demons then just left the constructs down there.

My players had to take over and control various constructs with a range of abilities depending on which one they took over. They had to fight the other constructs so they could restart the machine that powers the temple. As they progressed, any construct they beat would be restored to full HP, and they could take control of it. Any construct they controlled who was reduced to 0 HP would be destroyed, and they would take 1d6 damage. Now, while this doesn't sound like a lot of damage, it quickly added up. When all was finally said and done, the group had taken 21d6 damage between all of them. They were also quickly thrown into combat after this was over.

So, now that the players are finally done with the section, what did I do right, and what did I do wrong?

Well, the idea itself was a good one, and a smashing success at first. We were all having a great time, and the everyone even started naming their constructs. I felt my players were getting excited when they saw a new type of construct because it would mean they could play as that one pretty soon.

The problem was that it ran for too long. Something like this works well for 1, maybe 2 sessions. But because I had only given 1 attack to each type of construct, by the third and final session before they finished that section, we were all getting bored of it. The entire thing had turned into an at-will grind. This might have also worked better if I had thrown in more attacks and abilities in each construct.

If I were to try and do the idea again, I think I'd simplify it. Give them a few options taken from the monster manual and let them play as those. Put them up against a few other constructs and maybe a demon or two, then let them accomplish their goal. I guess the most important lesson learned here is that it is important to keep things moving. Don't dwell on any one thing for too long or everyone will get tired of it.

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Tags: dnd 4e Add / Edit Tags
Evil Plots , My Game


  1. Rodgin Kemph's Avatar
    Excellent idea. I may have to adapt this some time.

    On that note, I think you hit the nail on the head. It went just a little too long.
  2. Aerthos's Avatar
    As Rodgin, really. Sounds like a TON of fun though, especially since from a PC perspective the chance to control what is normally a "monster" can be a fun way to mix things up.