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D&D 3E
Dear Dungeon Master 
16th-Mar-2005 01:22 pm
See that line called 'Organization' under the Battlebriar, Lesser in the Monster Manual 3? Notice how it says solitary? Yes? And do you know why it says solitary? No?

Because it's not cool when a party of six tenth level adventurers dies to six of them without dropping a single one.


Large Plant
Hit Dice: 12d8+72 (126 hp)
Initiative: -2
Speed: 30 ft. (6 squares)
Armor Class: 19 (-1 size, -2 Dex, +12 natural), touch 7, flat-footed 19
Base Attack/Grapple: +9/+19
Attack: Slam +14 melee (1d8+6/19-20)
Full Attack: 2 slams +14 melee (1d8+6/19-20)
Space/Reach: 10 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Impale, improved grab, thorn volley, trample 1d8+9
Special Qualities: Darkvision ft., low-light vision, plant traits, resistance to electricity 10 and fire 10, thorn field
Saves: Fort +14, Ref +2, Will +4
Abilities: Str 23, Dex 6, Con 22, Int 5, Wis 10, Cha 7
Skills: Hide +11*
Feats: Cleave, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Critical (slam), Improved Natural Attack (slam), Power Attack
Environment: Temperate forests
Organization: Solitary
Challenge Rating: 7
Treasure: None
Alignment: Usually neutral
Advancement: -
Level Adjustment: -

  Impale (Ex): Whenever a battlebriar succeeds a grapple with a Medium or smaller creature, there is a chance that the creature will become impaled on one of the thorns. After the grapple has begun, a battlebriar attempts another grapple check as a free action to impale the creature on its thorns.
  An impaled creature is helpless until it beats the battlebriar in an opposed grapple check. As long as the only creatures that is is grappling with are impaled, a battlebriar is not considered grappled. When making grapple checks against impaled creatures, a battlebriar takes a -20 on grapple checks.
  Improved Grab (Ex): To use this ability, a battle briar must hit with its slam attack. It can then attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking attacks of opportunity.
  Thorn Volley (Ex): Battlebriars grow and shed their thorns at an incredible rate, and by rearing up on their hind legs and snapping their bodies forward, they can launch a deadly volley. As a standard action, a battlebriar can launching a volley of thorns, centering the volley anywhere within 30' The thorns deal 5d6 points of piercing damage to all creatures within a 10-foot radius (Reflex DC 22). The save DC is Strength-based.
  Trample (Ex): Reflex half DC 22. The save DC is strength-based.
  Thorn Field (Ex): The thorns on a battlebriar protrude into the area surrounding the creature, causing several effects on creatures moving through a battlebriar's threatened area. A battlebriar can make up to four attacks of opportunity each round. (Unlike the Combat Reflexes feat, this ability does not allow a battlebriar to make attacks of opportunity while flat-footed.) In addition, the DCs for Tumble checks to move through a battlebriar's threatened area or through the squares that it occupies increases by 10. Creatures three or more size categories smaller than the battlebriar cannot not move through the area that it threatens.
  Skills: *Despite its size, a battlebriar blends well with its surroundings, and it gains a +8 racial bonus on Hide checks in aboveground, natural environments.
16th-Mar-2005 05:43 pm (UTC)
I dont have a MM3... whats the CR for one?
16th-Mar-2005 05:51 pm (UTC)
CR 7.

They've got this nifty ability called impale, that causes them to make another grapple check when they grab you. If they succeed, you're impaled (no additional damage, but you're treated as helpless).

So here's what happened to my bard (the party's damage output, eerily enough):

Surprise Round: Two creatures advance, one hits, you're impaled.
Round One: Second creature hits with a coup de grace.

The wizard died during the third round when one grabbed him and the another hit a coup de grace.

The barbarian got beat to holy hell (he had low AC and they have +14 to hit), the rogue couldn't tumble through their threatened spaces to get away and get some help (+10 to any tumble DCs = ouch), the priestess got the crap kicked out of her gradually (and wasn't doing any damage output to counter it) and eventually died when they landed a couple of crits on him, and the mystic had to leave but he got impaled anyway, so the DM just had that one leave afterwards with the mystic still stuck.

It was not a fun encounter.
16th-Mar-2005 05:54 pm (UTC)
Pretty shitty DM.

16th-Mar-2005 06:09 pm (UTC)
wow way too much, especially with that ability. I checked the MM3 errata on wizards.com bu nothing there on this guy... isnt the coup de grace a full round action chock full of AoO ? Kind of a hindsight question, was anyone able to make any AoO during the fight on the rounds where the coup de grace occured?

Side question, was your DM in a cranky mood or something? Most DMs try to make the adventure challenging, not outright overwhelm the characters and not allow them to flee.

One Last Thing(tm): It may also be that the DM in question does not understand the CR thing. The rules can seem a little vague regarding how to calculate it.
16th-Mar-2005 06:10 pm (UTC) - A beautiful day in the neighborhood
Killing off the entire party is never cool. It's not fun and fun is the whole point of the game. One or two? Eh, life happens, but everyone?
HOWEVER, assuming the information in the MM as gospel is wrong. Like the Pirate code, it's more like guidlines. Every bit of information in the MM, or any guide book for that matter should be taken with a grain of salt. Solitary creatures may band together under a leader with half a brain.
Stop being a rule hound in a game where there really are no rules. Look to yourselves to see what you may have done wrong. Was the DM dropping hints that you didn't pick up? Where you working as a team or a bunch of cowboys?
Then you can blame the DM for being un-fair.
16th-Mar-2005 06:49 pm (UTC) - Re: A beautiful day in the neighborhood

"You leave the town and begin travelling southward *rolls dice* *rolls more dice* Guys, make spot checks."
*group rolls*
"Those of you who made fifteen (espher's note: I think there were two) notice something staring at you from below the tall grass. Before you have time to shout a warning, they spring to the attack. Roll for initiative."
*dice roll*
"One charges at May (espher's note: my bard) as the other slinks in behind it. Roll an opposed grapple."
*rolls, fails*
*two active PCs, the two healers, have to deal with two of their own, blah blah blah, rest of monster movement*
"The rest of you, roll initiative."
"May, roll a fort save."
*rolls, fails*

We were working as a team, there were no hints (it was a random encounter). Can I blame the DM yet?
(Deleted comment)
16th-Mar-2005 06:41 pm (UTC)
While I think the situation was entirely not good at all, I think that the way you wrote that letter was rather amusing.
16th-Mar-2005 08:21 pm (UTC)

16th-Mar-2005 09:06 pm (UTC)
Crappy situation, my friend. Surprise rounds suck the nut, as do random encounters.

I'll admit though, the entire situation is entirely poor planning on the part of the DM. Dropping -six- monsters that are supposed to be solitary is not only a lack of judgement, it's a "Wtf?" moment.

All creatures have traits and habits that determine whether or not they'll be in groups or solitary, not just because of their abilities. 6 solitary creatures coming together sounds like the family reunion that the gods forgot.
16th-Mar-2005 09:28 pm (UTC)
I could've sworn that coup de grace in combat is a two-round affair. One round to set up the kill, and a second round to execute it as a standard action (attack).

I remember when I played RtToEE, my party encountered a ghoul. Once it paralyzed one of us, it took one round afterwards to set up the coup de grace, and then the second round was the actual attack.

That's not to say that it would've changed the outcome of your fight necessarily, but there's a chance someone could've saved you while you were helpless. Those monsters sound imbalanced as is, but adding a one-round insta-death attack into the mix makes it moreso.
17th-Mar-2005 12:38 am (UTC)
From the D&D site glossary:

"coup de grace ... A full-round action that allows an attacker to attempt a killing blow against a helpless opponent."

So no, it takes a full round, though I can imagine a [one round set up + standard action attack] method being house-ruled.
16th-Mar-2005 09:32 pm (UTC)
Sorry to double-post, but I just read the stats of the monster. It says you're helpless until you beat the battlebriar with an opposed grapple check. Something seems wrong about that. If you can struggle, how are you helpless? When I think helpless, I think completely paralyzed, asleep, or pinned (in which case you can't break out).
17th-Mar-2005 10:04 am (UTC)
Well, there was a somewhat logical reason for there to be that many in the region, given their purpose. The lesser ones can be tamed and were designed as defensive/mobile siege engines, and we were travelling near a wooded area not far from a war zone, so it's possible a few druids moved them up there.


Logical, but still not cool ;)
(Deleted comment)
17th-Mar-2005 09:51 am (UTC)
I think this whole book is a balance nightmare ;)

I can see where the monsters are balanced for their CR in some instances, but man, some of them seem a little nuts.
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