Thursday, April 29, 2010

The D&D survival guide Part 2

Now we'll talk about combat. Part 1 of the survival guide was how to avoid making silly mistakes. Part 2, in other words this, will be about avoiding combat, which is a large source of death.
The survival guide will have a lucky number:3. This means that everything comes in threes. In Part 1, we had the 3 top mistakes. In part 2, we will have the 3 best ways to avoid combat.

The Diplomacy skill is, in my opinion, underused, at least when it comes to dealing with monsters. This is the typical player's mindset: Hmm, a goblin. Better kill it. This is simply asking for trouble. It is directly asking for combat. I mean, it's not like the goblin attacked you. In fact, you're the attacker! If you really have to get past the goblin, then try this: Hey goblin, do you mind shifting to the side a little? We have to get through here to kill the Evil Witch. Chances are, a random goblin will NOT mind shifting a little. Most likely, it'll say something like this(if the DM is a good one): The Evil Witch? That b*stard killed my mother! Here, this magic sword +8 that I made might help. In this way, you get past and get a magic sword +8 too!

Using the goblin example, let's say that the goblin responded like this: Hey! I WORK for the Evil Witch! No way you're gonna pass! Now what do you do? Kill him? No, that would defeat the purpose of this post. What you should do is this: Creep past the goblin, keeping your heads down. If you choose this, you you have the highest chance of failing compared to the other options, so I recommend this ONLY as a last resort.

I know this sounds a little extreme, but imagine if a bunch of rich and famous people(armed with intimidating giant axes that used to belong to gods, which might affect your response)gave you a large sum of money(by your standards) to take a step to your right, would you move? Of course! However, you should only try this if your level is around Epic Tier, where you have tons of gp.

I hope this post is useful =)

Monday, April 26, 2010

The D&D survival guide Part 1

Ok, I admit it. I kinda ripped the idea off from another(unnamed to avoid lawsuits)website but hey, it's a completely different perspective! Anyway, as you know, death is not good. Not good at all. Of course, there are revival items and stuff, but you have to waste them. The prevention is better than the cure. But how are you going to prevent death? That's what these posts are all about: Surviving. There are 3 parts. This, the first part, is going be about mistakes that a player can avoid making in order to ensure survival. The second is going to be about avoiding combat, which is a large cause of death. The third is going to be about what to do after the actual thing: revival or burial(if you can't revive the PC)
Now, down to business. Here are the top three mistakes that cause death:
1)Not checking a room for traps before entering.
Shadow the rogue is checking patiently for traps in a room. Crusher the fighter, however, is not so patient and asks,"Hey Shadow, how long is this gonna take?" Shadow replies,"About a few minutes more."Crusher is not happy and instead chooses to barge recklessly in the room, ignoring Shadow's warnings. Suddenly, 5 magical spikes shoot out and hit Crusher. The good news is, his most prized possession, Slicer the +5 axe, was not destroyed. The bad news is, Crusher was not so lucky.
In this case, Crusher was too impatient and rushed out into the heavily trapped room. Luckily, this was not based on a real situation. However, most players DO actually rush out into rooms without checking for traps. The solution is simple and requires no extra resources, at the benefit of saving a PC's life: be more patient. This could save literally dozens of adventurer lives.
2)Forgetting to add spells when calculating entercounter attack damage.
After being resurrected and reprimanded by the rest of his party, Crusher now knows better than to run into a room randomly and is now not so stupid. The same cannot be said for Slayer the Warlock, however. Shortly after the spikes incident, there was a battle with some monsters. During the battle, Slayer got bloodied, resulting in Holy the Priest , Moonhat the Wizard and Healer the Cleric to protect him. When a goblin attacked Slayer, it scored a natural 20, severly wounding Slayer. Healer asked,"Did you remember to add in Holy's Inner Fire resistance?" "No.""What about Moonhat's Protective Aura?" "No." "You're not being healed by me anytime soon."
Instead of Crusher, we now have Slayer(to avoid "discriminating" against Fighters)making a foolish mistake. Moonhat and Holy could have saved him from going from bloodied to near death, but he forgot to add their spell effects. This can be also countered with a simple solution: Pay attention at all times, even during someone else's turn.
3)Trusting the shady NPC
Awhile later, the party met an NPC half-hidden in shadows while having a round of drinks in a bar. "Hey, I have a quest for you group." he whisperers, checking to make nobody notices. "If anyone's interested, meet me in the heart of the Dark Forest. I'll pay you 900000 GP for completing the quest." "Wow!" Ritual the Invoker exclaims, "900000 GP!" Crusher warns him that it may be a trap, but Ritual still insists, despite Crusher's warnings(well, he DID have a bad experience with some spikes earlier on!). When he reaches the middle of Dark Forest, suddenly 5 assassins drop out of nowhere and attack him. Outnumbered, Ritual is quickly defeated. In the distance, he can hear the NPC laughing cruelly

In this scenario, Ritual blindly trusted a shady NPC because of his greed for GP. This, once again, can be solved with a solution that requires almost no work: think carefully before following a shady stranger's instructions, even if you are tempted with some kind of a reward.

I hope that more people will now stop making these mistakes in the future. Thanks for reading! ;D

Thursday, April 22, 2010

DM's Brew: Mixing Veteran with Beginner Players

Recently, I read a very interesting article on DungeonsMaster that prompted me to create this post. I won't mention names as it is a very old article and you may not think it relevant, however, I will show you it's "offspring": this post.
What happens when you take an experienced player who has been playing for ten years, lets call him A, and put him in the same game as X, a beginner who has only bought the three core books and this game is his first. I think there are three possible outcomes:
1)A helps X to understand the game
2)A scorns X and his own bad luck
3)X screws the game up and A is angry at X
Let us look at 1) first. We'll cover 3 parts(A skill check, an entercounter and the end of the game):
A:Hi X, I heard you are a beginner. Do you want me to help you out?
(A few minutes later...)
X:Er.. What is a Perception Check?
(X bends down to check core book)
A:X, there's no need to check the Player's Handbook. It just slows the game down. I can help you with it, okay? Now, a Perception Check is.....(Explanation of Perception Check)
(A few hours later...)
X: Hmm... let's see.. the monster has attacked me for 10 damage so.. wait. I have only 7 hp left? Oh no!
A:Don't worry, X. Remember the spell Z cast on the monster? That reduces his dexterity, so would you mind rolling again, DM?
DM: Okay then. (Rolls)The monster misses X.
(After the game is over...)
X:Thanks for your help, A.
A: Glad to be of assistance.
As you can see,with A helping X, the game ends positively.

Now let's look at 2):
A:What?!! I got stuck with a newbie?!! Now he'll slow the game down! Darned luck!
(A few minutes later..)
X: What's a Perception Check? Hey, A. Since you're experienced, maybe you can help me?
A:Hahaha! Don't you even know what's a Skill Check? Go figure it out yourself, idiot!
(A few hours later...)
X:This is bad. The monster hits me for 10 damage but I only have 7 hp left!
A:That's too bad then. Why didn't you attempt to avoid that dragon even when you were marked? What a fool!
(After the game is over..)
X(thinking to himself):What a selfish player A is. I think I'll quit and find another gaming group!
In this case, X is angry with A and leaves the group, so the game ends negatively(obviously)

What about 3)? Well let us find out:
A:Hmm.. looks like X is a newbie. Ah well, it's nothing much
Now we'll skip the Perception Check part because the main focus is on the Entercounter part:
X:I'm in trouble! DM, I want to cast my Comet spell
DM: A comet flares across the night sky, obliterating the trolls but also crushing your group(Yes, I know he's unfair, but that's not the point. That sort of thing is more the focus on the first post.)
A:Arghh! X! You fool! Why did you cast that stupid comet spell?!! Now we're all dead!
(After the game is over...)
X:Sorry about the comet incident,A.
A(who has by then calmed down):Don't worry about it. Just don't do it again.
Here, the game ends neutrally.

Now, if you were A, which option would you choose? One, right? Okay then. If that's the case, I'll end this post with a question:
If you were honest with yourself, would you reallychoose option one?

Edit:I don't always put a "visit this blog" in my DungeonsMaster comments but most of the time I do, especially for the long comments.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Do not write scripted endings

Have you ever used a scripted ending before? In case you do not know, scripted endings are endings where the ending is predetermined; all you do is guide the players to that ending. Now, I ask you, what if this happens?
DM thinks to self:" Hmm, according to this script, it should end with Averon thanking the players and giving them their reward."
Player:I kill Averon and steal his money.

If you were the DM in that scenario, wouldn't you be stuck? I know creative DMs can manage to somehow achieve the ending, but if you were to just improvise an ending, it would be much easier. Also, players can feel cheated if they spent 6 hours completing an adventure only to have an obviously-scripted ending. If I were the player, I would prefer to have an ending that is based on what I do during the adventure. Also, there are some DMs out there who do not have a sense of reality, having the town cheering for the PCs when all the PCs did was kill the person who was supposed to start the adventure in the first place. If they did that, I'll have the town get angry and kick the PCs out. Also, the town will hate the PCs and they are not welcome from that incident onwards. Oh, and since they didn't kill the monsters attacking the town, there will be several monsters hanging around in the woods/dungeon near the town. Now THAT is realistic.
I mean, think about it. If monsters were attacking your town, and the guy who asks the wandering group of adventurers for help gets killed by them, will you cheer them on?
Scripted endings also usually lead to bad script habits, such as relying on scripts or completely and utterly following the script. It will probably lead to other complications and problems, such as scripted item luck or scripted overpowered/underpowered monsters. However, I feel there's nothing wrong with establishing a ROUGH ending(by yourself and based on the party's situation), and then guiding the party to it with, say plot hooks("A nearby mage quickly runs over and revives Averon using *insert item name here*.). Obviously, the plot hooks must be reasonable and not too far-fetched, preferably having a realistic consequence/result (The newly-revived Averon says,"I was about to give you your reward but since you killed me.. I won't, *insert rude name or synonym for psychopath here*!!!)

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post. You can also find me posting comments here and there(to be honest, I actually post on about every new article :))under the nickname "Dungeon Newbie".
PS: If you think some one is impersonating me, check under my post. I will always have some variation of "Visit my D&D blog" there.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Players don't have "item luck", you know!

Looking at people's accounts of D&D games, I think DMs should not assume players have what I like to call "item luck". Item luck means that all items you get will fit in with the adventure or campaign you are playing. For example, just because you are mostly fighting monsters with weaknesses against fire, don't expect to always get Fire Swords and the like. This applies to both DMs and PCs. A PC should not be expecting item luck, and if he does, the DM should not comply with his expectations.
However, the DM should grant item luck INDIRECTLY. It's clever, cunning, and perfectly reasonable for a DM to give the PCs an extremely rare item that they can sell to buy the item that is strong against the monsters they are currently fighting and/or give the PCs an item that will be useful later on in the campaign or even adventure. Now, at this point, most players will be feeling indignant that if their DM reads this, he/she will not give them item luck anymore, but think about it. In real life, if you were having a headache, say, you really can't expect aspirins to drop randomly out of the sky, right?(if you do, SEE A DOCTOR!)
I once read about a DM who fits this example perfectly. He gave one of his players a Sunblade(I think it was a Sunblade, but anyway it was a fire-based sword). After finding that the Sunblade did not work very well against the monsters they were currently fighting, the player almost sold it. But just as she was going to, bam! The DM took them to a location where the Sunblade was EXTREMELY effective.
So the next time you don't get item luck, don't blame it on your DM(or me). Remember that he is just trying to make the game more realistic and may even be actually giving you item luck, just indirectly. In detective movies, the smallest clue may be significant or may come in handy. The same applies here. See you next time! :D

Note:I was inspired by to make regular updates, so I'll try to update this regularly. I can't take all the credit!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The DM is not the player's enemy

It is easy for DMs to assume that his/her's job is to kill the PCs. Now, don't get me wrong, I think that the DM should challenge the players, but there is a difference between a difficult encounter and giving level 1 PCs an inescapable, fight to the death encounter with 5 level 9 Red Dragons. A DM should make the game balanced, but still difficult. What's the point of giving a group of newly-started PCs a task for a level 12 PC, or tasking an epic tier group to kill a giant rat?
Not randomly killing PCs, however, should NOT be equivalent to fudging if at all possible. If you set a gigantic,fearsome, immortal creature against PCs who, it turns out, get their asses handed to them, it makes no sense for it to deal massive amounts of damage in the first 3 turns, then deal 3 hp damage on its 4th, just because "It bumped its head against a tree and is now bloodied. Also, it is confused and it does less damage." This is and obviously lame excuse for fudging rolls because the PCs were having trouble killing a monster you should have not made so powerful in the first place, or even worst, you fudged it just so that "Y'all can survive." If you were really fighting an immortal cyclops, do you think it would only gently swing its spiked club just because you were dying? No! This sort of fudging only reduces the fun of D&D(not that I know anything about it; I haven't bought a single thing related to D&D but I still think it probably would). Even if you really got it wrong and really tried to make a suitable monster, give a more plausible excuse like,"Suddenly, the ground shudders. It's an earthquake! The (insert monster name here)takes (insert reasonable number here) damage." This, of course should not be abused just so that bad DMs can randomly put powerful monsters in a group of weak PCs' way.
In conclusion: make the game fair and balanced, and try not to fudge rolls to help players if you didn't make the game fair and balanced.