We are playing the Zeitgeist campaign and have had four characters through much of it, and five characters through some of it. We had a number of times where a character went down, but the rest of the group was able to contain the encounter and get to the fallen comrade before death, no big deal. The last couple of big encounters were very different.
I'll try to avoid spoilers, but the encounter on Cauldron Hill appears to have been designed to be a challenging one, and we were only four characters. We were protecting a NPC, which was a distraction, and three of the four characters were rolling very poorly including one which was dominated or something. Our paladin, who as the defending was taking the brunt of their attacks and attention, was low on HPs and took a hit from the BBEG so hard it killed him outright. The DM took some pity on us since he felt he underestimated the challenge and we rolled so poorly, and gave us a roll play way out. If not for that, it was a TPK in progress. The paladin's player decided he wanted to play something else, so we didn't attempt to haul his dead body out - not that we were in any condition to do so anyway and the role playing opportunity essentially took that option away in any case.
The next big encounter involved a player deciding to go toe to toe with a large creature who was obviously very dangerous in melee. We looked to be successfully handling the behemoth from a distance with ranged attacks and battle field control which kept it from closing with us. The player, for reasons which are not clear to me (perhaps he was bored with his limited ranged options), moved his character within melee, and in no time at all was pummeled into unconsciousness. Another character closed too to attempt to save him, and he too was quickly down. Fortunately, we were able to get the creature down in time to save one of the two downed characters. The now dead character, through a role play method (my character can speak with the dead), expressed his interest in being 'reincarnated'. So that became our mission for him (he wanted to play the same personality, but a different character class).
The next encounter had us fearing failure and death once again, but this time only one character down and saved just in time, and we negotiated our way out of what could have been either a victory or TPK - it was close.
What do I make of all this?
- This is a difficult adventure. Some of the bad guys are very dangerous, and can do lots of damage in a short amount of time.
- The adventure is designed for five characters and we have been mostly four. It makes a difference.
- We had no heavy damage striker, and it took us too long to take nasty folks out.
- Some of us are new to 4th edition, and we are not taking good advantage of the fact this is a high magic campaign. (Using the minor action and potions would make a difference)
- We are being slow to coalesce as a fighting group. We are bad at focus fire.
- The players who are experienced at 4th edition, are playing it like 3rd edition and coming up short on healing.
- 4th edition characters can be difficult to kill, however, serious BBEGs can easily overcome that difficulty.
That is it for now. We'll be getting to 4th level next session and throwing ourselves face first into danger again.
The dice never lie.