That’s the point the DM wants to get to with their players. Where all seems lost and only a sliver of hope remains. And then the PCs are miraculously delivered from their despair, defeat the villain and save the day.
The perfect encounter in D&D will incapacitate about half the players before the foe is defeated.
Designing challenges at the low and middle tiers is easy enough. A bunch of Orcs, a Troll or an Ogre. There’s plenty of simple bad guys that provide credible threats to the party.
With multiple enemies it’s easy enough to modify an encounter to get just the right challenge. If the PCs are having an easy time of it, reinforcements arrive. If the encounter looks as if it may overwhelm them, perhaps the enemies retreat. After all, the PCs have surely slain a few of their foes and those who remain may not be willing to die for their cause.
At the high tiers, encounters become a little more difficult to design. Most anything in the books can be thrown at the PCS, dragons, devils, giants,you name it. But it’s difficult to gauge exactly how challenging a monster will be.
At any tier it’s okay if an encounter is too easy, but the advantage of high tier play is that it’s okay if an encounter is too hard as well.
The monster kills two of the PCs and they have to retreat? That’s okay, they can just bring the PCs back from the dead, research the monster’s weakness, and return two days later to slay it.
Epic tier challenges have even more problems as the players can often just wish the encounter away. The DM needs to be firm about what can and cannot be wished away to prevent all future challenges from being trivialized.
As powerful as the wish and miracle spells are, they usually won’t entirely invalidate playing D&D beyond 17th level.
The DM’s job is to limit the scope of what the wish and miracle spells can do through careful interpretation. Additionally, the in game mechanics give severe consequences to using the spells. Finally, the players may limit their usage themselves as they don’t want to take the fun and challenge out of the game either.
Regardless, epic level challenges still need to feel different than the previous tiers. I’ve been DMing at the epic tier for awhile and have designed a few encounters that should hopefully prove useful for others in the future.
But I’ve reached the end of this blog post so I’ll talk about the design of those encounters another time!
I finally saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I’m not going to shy away from spoilers in my review, so stop reading if you haven’t seen the movie and want to keep it a surprise.
The movie was good and I’m excited for where the new Star Wars movies are going.
The new characters were interesting. Including the old characters meant there were a few too many important people in the movie but I managed to keep up with it.
The new villain, Kylo Ren, was awesome. Just as menacing as Darth Vader while embracing the anger part of the dark side. When Kylo Ren gets angry he ignites his lightsaber and just lays into whatever is around him. Excellent characterization.
The plot was… familiar but there’s nothing wrong with that. Star Wars 1, 4, and 6 all had the same damn plot. Why shouldn’t 7 as well?
And while I enjoyed the movie a lot, it was still a let down.
I’m a big fan of Star Wars, both original, prequel, and expanded universe, so inevitably the movie was going to be a let down in one way or another.
There were two specific things the movie did not do that I wanted it to do.
The first thing is a little complicated. You see, the first Star Wars movie, A New Hope, was based off a Japanese movie called The Hidden Fortress.
The Hidden Fortress is a story of two poor soldiers who get caught up in a war when they find a chest of gold belonging to the “rebels.”
They team up with a general to transport the gold and the warrior princess to whom the gold belongs to a faraway castle.
The whole movie is about seeing war through the eyes of the low, the two poor soldiers.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is the general in A New Hope, Leia is the princess, the gold is the Death Star plans, and the two poor soldiers? Are they Luke and Han?
NO! The poor soldiers from The Hidden Fortress are R2-D2 and C-3PO in Star Wars!
The whole Star Wars series has been told in some way from the point of view of the two droids. They experience all the action in A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. They start off the action in Return of the Jedi by going into Jabba’s palace alone. We see their origins in A Phantom Menace and how they got to be part of the Rebel Alliance in Attack of the Clonesand The Revenge of the Sith.
But is the story of The Force Awakens told from the R2-D2 and C-3PO’s point of view? Nope. They are thankfully still in the movie, but their role of in the movie has been taken over by BB-8.
The idea still plays out the same way with BB-8, but it disappointed me that the original droids will no longer be the focus.
And I get why Disney made that choice. R2-D2 looks clunky and old now and C-3PO was always supposed to be lame. BB-8 has a cool design and his character is active and energetic. There were tons of BB-8 toys sold even before the movie came out, making it a smart financial move on Disney’s part to introduce the new character. More merchandising!
The second thing that upset me about the new movie was that Luke Skywalker wasn’t really in it.
Sure he has a cameo at the end, but he doesn’t have a single line.
Everything I’d heard about the new series of Star Wars movies indicated that they would be about Luke passing the torch to the next generation of Jedi. While the new characters want to find him for that reason, that plotline just didn’t move forward in this movie.
From an impartial perspective the movie didn’t suffer from Luke’s absence. The whole plot was structured around him not being there and thus it worked fine without him, BUT I STILL FELT LIKE HE SHOULD’VE BEEN THERE!
Another minor problem, the whole Force Awakens thing was never explained. The idea was introduced in the first trailer but it only shows up in the movie as a single line from one of the villains. The way the trailer is, I thought the whole movie would be about “The Awakening.”
Regardless of the movie’s faults, I still enjoyed it a lot and am looking forward to the next ones.
If you’re still unsure if you should see the movie, I definitely recommend it for Star Wars fans. The Force Awakens is also a good introduction for those who are new to the series.
One of my personal goals for this blog when I was first constructing it was to post designs for League of Legends champions, items, and game modes.
When I first read about where champions came from in League of Legends it was pretty clear that the answer was Anywhere.
Champions come from cities, farms, mountain villages, deserts, jungles, and out of the ocean. They can come from more exotic places too like the distant past or other dimensions. Kayle and Morgana come a dimension populated by angels. Lots of champions come from The Void. Malphite comes from a rock dimension. You get the idea.
So why couldn’t a champion come from an alternate dimension like Star Wars?
So there is room in League of Legends for crossover characters if Riot decides to go that route. It could be Link, Donkey Kong, Master Chief or Darth Vader who I’ll be designing today.
One issue with making a Darth Vader champion is there is already a character very similar to Darth Vader within League of Legends. That character is Kassadin.
I don’t mean similar in story or personality, Kassadin is nothing like Anakin Skywalker. I mean in terms of what that character can do.
Darth Vader has an ability to choke people from a distance. Kassadin can interrupt what people are saying from a distance.
Darth Vader has a shining lazer sword. Kassadin has a shining lazer sword.
Darth Vader can summon powerful winds (remember when that whirlwind hits Luke in The Empire Strikes Back?). Kassadin can throw out magical energy that slows people down in a cone close to him.
They even look similar!
So how do we differentiate a League of Legends Darth Vader from Kassadin?
Let’s just go through the abilities I had in mind for Vader and see how they compare.
Passive (The Imperial March): When Vader attacks an enemy champion all allied minions with an attack range within 100 of that champion will also attack that champion for the next 2 seconds. The minions will lose aggro if the target gets more than 200 outside of their attack range. This ability has a cooldown per champion targeted of 12 seconds (like Nautilus’ passive).
This ability brings in a little of the stormtrooper element of Vader’s strategies in the movies. He gets the little guys to do his dirty work. The minions still have to move in range and complete their attack animations though, so there is some ability to escape the minion assault. Plus, Vader’s minion won’t be attacking the opposing wave, resulting in the opposing wave pushing in. I’d like to say that I can predict how this passive would play out in actual games, but I can’t. Is it broken? Is it awful? I can’t say. The good news is the passive fits thematically and it is unique, making the gameplay of Vader easily identifiable, even if he’s not using his abilities.
Q (Force Choke): Vader lifts an enemy off the ground with the Force and chokes them. This is a short ranged ability, probably 500. Vader will channel for 1 second while the opponent is knocked up and takes damage over the duration. The knockup can be interrupted if Vader’s channel is broken. The target takes damage over the channel that scales off Vader’s AP and the target’s missing health. The last tic of damage should be three times as much as the other tics. The last tic is supposed to be from the target hitting the ground, so it will trigger if Vader cancels Force Choke or is interrupted. The ability refunds half its mana if it kills the target. Force Choke will have a short cooldown of about 6 seconds.
The base damage on this ability would be pretty low so that Vader either has to rely on the execute part of it or the AP part late game to get any use out of it. The knockup will be almost useless to Vader for trading in lane because he can’t do anything during the channel either. The short cooldown will allow Vader to CS with it against ranged champs that might zone him. In team fights it should be a great initiation tool, but it has the drawbacks that Vader must expose himself when using it and CC on Vader will interrupt the knockup.
W (Dark Side Fury): Vader draws additional power from the Dark Side of the Force and channels it into his weapon. His weapon crackles with purple lightning and Vader gains increased AD and attack speed for the next 6 seconds. His next auto attack is also empowered to deal additional magic damage scaling off his AP.
There were other ideas considered for this ability slot, but none of them fit the overall concept as well as a simple steroid. Throwing Vader’s lightsaber was one idea as he does that in Return of the Jedi, but Vader should be a melee champion and giving him what is effectively a ranged auto didn’t seem right. I also considered an ability called Turn to the Dark Side that taunted an enemy champion, but that really put too much CC power in Vader’s hands. Force Gale was also considered for this slot, but my friends convinced me that it belonged as an ultimate. The auto attack empowerment matches the lightning enhanced attacks and the Force Fury mechanic in the Force Unleashed games. At first I felt uneasy about this because Vader never uses lightning in the movies, but if professionals designed Vader with this ability in Force Unleashed then maybe I should too!
E (Feel the Force): For the next 3 seconds Vader uses his lightsaber to deflect all incoming ranged auto attacks, effectively dodging them. During those three seconds Vader also reveals all enemy champions within 1,500 of Vader. As this ability all but nullifies ganks it would have a long cooldown on the order of 30 to 60 seconds.
This ability is one of the chief things that all force users do in the Star Wars movies, deflect lazer shots with their lightsabers! Its one of the first things that Obi-Wan teaches Luke! Gotta include it. Force users can also sense the presence of other force users which covers the other use of the active. When Obi-wan is on the Death Star, Vader says, “I sense something; a presence I’ve not felt since…”
R (Force Gale): Vader stands still and shoots a wind gale in front of him. All enemies in the gale are pushed back 150 and a zone is established while Vader continues to channel the ability that slows enemies moving towards Vader and deals damage to all enemies within it.
This is that power that Vader used to throw a bunch of stuff at Luke in the fight before he says, “I am your father.” He also throws other stuff with the Force at other times in the movies and all the time in the Force Unleashed. Force Gale is basically a weaker form of Rumble’s Equalizer because it deals damage over time and slows in a linear area. The area in which Vader can place the Force Gale is more limited than the Equalizer though. Vader acts as one of the ends of the line. This ability could be used for damage in combination with other champions like Amumu or it could be used to zone people in a team fight.
How do you play Vader? He is an AP bruiser who is best suited for Top lane or Jungle. He could work as a Support as well. Hard to say without getting to play him.
A basic combo for Vader would be to walk to an enemy champion during laning phase and auto attack that champion. This sets off his Imperial March passive. He follows up with Force Choke while the minions attack. When the enemy champion lands, Vader hits them with a Dark Side Fury auto attack. Then, depending on the situation, Vader can give chase with his enhanced autos or retreat now that his combo is done.
In teamfights Vader provides short cooldown CC with his Force Choke. He has a strong battlefield control option with his Force Gale and in rare situations it can be used to snipe fleeing opponents. Feel the Force gives Vader a tool for fighting ADCs as well. His weakness lies in his lack of mobility. Vader never moves quickly in the games or the movies. He walks freaking everywhere all the time. While his ultimate is strong if used in the right place, Vader has to position himself in the right place. Mixing that positioning with Vader’s strong kit will separate the good Sith Lords from the great Sith Lords.
Tadah! There’s my first idea for a League of Legends champion! I think Darth Vader will play and feel quite different than Kassadin. Their laning phases are differentiated by Vader’s passive and Kassadin becomes an assassin upon getting his ultimate while Vader gains more CC to solidify his tank role. Thanks a lot to my friends who gave me feedback while I was coming up with the idea. You know who you are!
P.S. If this post has made you interested in playing League of Legends you can try it out by clicking this link.