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This is me looking at the SGT again, and thinning it out a bit while also making it test2 more what it probably should: various non-repeated encounter types with level appropriate opposition that comprise a nice cross-section of the encounters in the game at that level.

I don't which, if any, of these will make the final cut, I'm just breaking them down and making minor locational adjustments at present.

The wall of force nerf between editions really weakens this one, but the at-will air walk and d-door sorta make it a decent "run you down" guy. There's lots of ways to escape it, but if you actually engage it you need to have a better move than 60 (or a mount) or perfect flight so you can avoid charge range and avoid it smashing you with it's "you can't see" fist, at which point you probably lose if you can't deal with a DC 31 fort.
  • A Hullathoin (with its army of skeletons and bloodfiend locusts).
These don't appear to be in any of the monster manuals, so they're probably out on those ground alone.
  • A Nightmare Beast deep in a hedge maze filled demiplane (a la maze).
It's basically a melee brawl against a big thing since the abilities this creature has come with abysmal saves for this level. We can do better.
  • A Windghost in the sky.
It's a slow moving, flying blimp with neither reach nor ranged attacks. The most interesting things about it are the fast healing, true seeing, and AMF, none of which make it an effective combatant. Since "flight + crossbow" = sure win, this is out.
  • A Yakfolk cleric with a party of Dao.
1 of 2 clerics, and with a party of Dao. Inclined to drop atm, though that might change after I look up yakfolk and dao and figure out why this is substantially different from the next one.
Dao grant limited wishes to nongenies (like Yakfolk). Basically, the challenge here is dealing with wishspam. - IGTN 03:23, June 21, 2010 (UTC)
Yakfolk are probably here because they can command genies. But they're still a CR 4 creature (+ cleric levels) running around with a group of CR 7 creatures... hrm...
2 of 2 clerics in the SGT, but this one is the more straightforward of the two. Also running with a bunch of low CR things so it's similar to the necromancer + guys encounter of other level SGTs. No reason to keep the Drow bit on here though, it's LA is worthless by this point and it just reduces the real power of the opposition.
  • A warband gang of 4 Cloud Giants in their mountain hideout / keep in the clouds.
No idea what a warband is, but it's probably more than 4 and thus higher than CR 15. So, fixed. This is supposed to be CR 15, but it isn't anywhere close if you make them throw rocks. So it's indoors now, where you can sorta get away from them but they have reach and you can't get too far. Yay a group melee brawl at level 15 :-/
Similar to the single dragon encounters in the L10 SGT, and worth keeping cause dragons are supposed to be all around the higher levels anyway. It's CR-3 to account for the [Awesome] subtype, and that might be a bit lower than I want in general, but it's the right style at least.
  • A Death Slaad riding a Titanic Toad.
A stunlock / DoT reach fighter with summons, solid resistance, and minor tricks. Similar to the Marut, but not a bad solo grind fight in general.
  • A Rube Goldberg series of contingent weirds triggered to a set of symbols of pain surrounding the artifact.
An odd set of traps, but not bad. Probably going to replace with a bunch of CR 8 traps for ease of reference (yes, CR 8, reasons upon request).
Combat probably starts with you ambushed unless you can pierce their disguises, which leads into lots and lots and lots of will saves. After that ambush though, they have no reach, crappy combat ability, the same will save generating abilities as last round, and you can probably drop several of them per round because of their low hp. So probably a will save ambush followed by either a grapple-drain-orgy or (if your will saves are really decent and took 16 moderate shots) they summon in as many vrocks as they can get (4ish). If you don't have a decent fort the vrocks stunning screech will leave you open for the remaining succubi to grapple-drain-orgy you. If you also have a decent fort, it's just a really hard fight between the fleeing will-save causing succubi and the much more melee oriented spore emitting vrocks.
No reach army of thugly melee types that are almost certainly out in the open. Their grapple is a concern, but it's not amazing or anything. This fight is pretty straightforward and not very interesting in terms of strategy or setup.
Outdoors, it's trivial and basically serves only to prove that fighter-level classes don't perform as advertised. In a dungeon ambush, though, this can be a hard brawl. Not tactically interesting, but a brawl nonetheless --IGTN 05:16, May 3, 2010 (UTC)
  • A forest made out of lava and infested with hostile fire-element dire badgers.
This is not a level 15 challenge. This is a joke. This is level 15 background flavor that you deal with before the adventure happens or what happens when you get offensively planeshifted somewhere unpleasant. You either have gear for it already (everyone could, so not relevant), you have fire immunity (flavor ability, really it is), or you have spells to cover it (no guarantee they are prepared). It's even more of a joke because the fire could easily be replaced by elec, ice, acid, sonic, positive, negative, your mom energy type and this single item goes from a win to a loss unless you're immune to everything. You either have the magic thing you need, or you die no save. So yeah, it's out.
I think this was put on the list entirely to make it obvious the kinds of versatility and power that you need to survive at level 15. Most wizard-level and many rogue-level 15th level characters auto-win it; all of them auto-win it if they can prepare for it; everyone else auto-loses it. It made sense for proving that fighter-level characters don't work as advertised, but it doesn't do anything else. There should still be an environmental challenge, though. --IGTN 05:16, May 3, 2010 (UTC)
I don't think so. Yes, you need these things to even survive at these levels, but it's background stuff. It's stuff you either have or you don't go. So my current plan is just to write in crazy environmental stuff into most of the encounters to drive home the point that you do crazy shit while you go and beat up on enemies. Which also lets me write in more than just fire resistance to drive home that you actually need every type (or access to them) to even compete at this level. I'll probably toss in a quartet of various elementals on the positive / negative energy plane or whatever, because non-passive multiple-energy resistance stuff is actually interesting. - TarkisFlux 05:40, May 3, 2010 (UTC)
Makes sense. Something like "An Elder Air, Earth, Fire, and Water elemental immune to negative energy in a Voidstone Field"? --IGTN 05:56, May 3, 2010 (UTC)
Basically, yeah, though I'm trying to keep the rewrite SRD only so I can just link all the relevant bits, so the voidstone field is probably out. - TarkisFlux 06:08, May 3, 2010 (UTC)
Edit conflict: 1/day item of Death Ward, comes out to 22.4k. Should be easy for virtually any semi-effective damage-dealing character to beat it with that on. Alternatively, slightly more costly is the Cornucopia of the Needful (Relic, 6k) in Magic Item Compendium which has a 14% chance of dropping a cherry which grants Death Ward for 12 minutes. --Ghostwheel 06:11, May 3, 2010 (UTC)
Oh, I know it's more or less trivial to counter the environmental stuff with gear. Which is why I don't want it to be it's own thing and don't think environmental challenges are worth including. I don't even care about the environmental stuff really, I'm mostly using it for illustration purposes. I assume that you'll overcome it already, and if you can't you'll be doing ass on most of the SGT15 I have in mind (like you will probably be doing in most of the game at an SGT level) instead of just 1 point in it. Whether the encounter itself is worth including is still up in the air. A melee of mixed energy immunity creatures on a directionless plane feels like something that would be worth including, but I haven't looked at the interactions at all yet, hence the "probably" above instead of a more definitive declaration. - TarkisFlux 06:45, May 3, 2010 (UTC)
Also, you'd need air. For breathing. Again though, assumed to be dealt with, because it's background fluff in the encounter as far as I'm concerned. - TarkisFlux 06:49, May 3, 2010 (UTC)
And lastly, nm on the elementals. That encounter lacks the things I sorta cared about (mixed energy immunities), and it's probably too close to the cloud giants anyway. I now remember why I don't use them very often in games anymore. Could swing it with a mixed set of chromatic dragons though... have to see if that sort of encounter isn't duplicated elsewhere here and tests anything we care about though. - TarkisFlux 06:56, May 3, 2010 (UTC)
  • A pair of Beholders.