The smaller tracks are those of what your people call Horned Ghosts. It is believed that when the red marsh cattle are torn apart by predators, they come back as bipedal monsters with the heads of aurochs, anxious to prey upon others. They never get lost in the mazy paths of the moors, and chase others into the watery spots -- they like helpless prey. They've been known to track victims for miles across the moors (most often, your people simply swim to throw them off the track, and the marshy areas don't bother you, so lizardfolk almost never fall prey to them). Horned Ghosts sometimes stalk solo, although more often they form gangs.
I'll post my experiences in spoilers; anyone less twisted than Doodlebug might want to think carefully before clicking:
So, about 10 years ago I was working in a bayou in LA, and there's a herd of cattle, and the bull decides he doesn't like me being within 1,000 feet of him and charges (cattle have never liked me, for some reason -- I learned that in the Caribbean, but that's a different story). Anyway, the rest of the herd gets startled and stampedes ahead of him -- towards me! -- and I manage to jump into the bed of the pickup truck ahead of them, to avoid being trampled. I look back to see what the bull is doing, and notice that, thankfully, he's gotten distracted by one of the calves -- but unfortunately, he's now busily raping the poor little thing in the mud, and it's bleating in terror. There are sights and sounds one definitely wishes to un-experience...
Anyway, Tsarok looks at the other hoofprints:
My vision of the ideal encounter is one where the players all get knocked down by a good chunk of hitpoints and some get so low they seriously start worrying, but they win in the end.
When I play, an ideal encounter for me is one that occurs only after several sessions of the party and the bad guys both trying desperately to rig the odds in their favor. When the ball finally drops, we see whose prep was better -- BAM! -- one side wiped out in the first round.
The Maltese Falcon wrote:
See example I posted subsequently. "Lethality" =/= "combat," so if you mean one, don't say the other.
Cricket the Sexy Goblin Druid wrote:
It got rolled into Handle Animal. Mark of the wild, among other things, lets you control animals; it works off your Handle Animal skill.
So, 1d20+10 -> 3+10+2 -> 15 to influence a CR 2 aurochs bull (DC 17). That even includes a +2 circumstance bonus for the red blanket!
No dice: the bull is happy with his female herd, and uninterested in giving up his cushy grazing life to go adventuring with a polymorphously perverse male biped.
Your total wild control = [(10-8)/2]^2 = CR 1, so Cricket currently lacks the animal handling skill to keep the bull in his stable, long-term.
After eating and breaking camp, you proceed deeper into the moors... the grasses become thicker, and the ground marshier. You pass a small herd of red cattle -- the bull snorts angrily in warning, and prepares to charge if you come near; his cows and calves stampede away, frightening aloft a flock of the gigantic boobries.
Since you can speak to animals, you know the bull is saying to you, "Dese are MY b++#~es! Come near and I cut you BAD!"
The birds, in turn, are saying to the cattle: "That's really rude of you to stampede over our lunch. For revenge, we're going to poop on your heads."
On the other hand, one GM I had, claimed that he didn't "coddle" his players, so he would do things like surprise our Level 7 party with a CR 13 Monster in the middle of the night, that had so much stealth that there was no possible way we could notice them, and did a TPK. And the same GM killed us with a CR 16 monster after we all rerolled characters. Needless to say, he delighted very much in the killing of PC's, and always felt that he "won" when we died, and his campaigns never lasted through their first adventures.
By my standards, he lost.
He would have won if the second party of PCs cast speak with dead on their predecessors to learn about the local monsters, then went back to town and prepped accordingly, and set up a proper watch and decoy, and managed to kill the CR 13 thing and, a few levels later, moved in and mopped up the CR 16 one, too. THAT would be a win -- the DM taught the players to exceed their PCs' normal limitations.
Mark Hoover wrote:
Ever had a player who said "Ok, so where are we going? Barrow of the Black Hand? Ok...what's the 'Black Hand'?" which then sets off an epic hour of RP to determine a wight is running the barrow? Then it doesn't stop there. Our fearless heroes then head to the local church for strategies to defeat the creature and thus learn knowledge like it's thrice as strong as any one of you (3HD) or that it has to touch you to drain your life and therefore they get a bunch of ranged items blessed and holy water super soakers and such.
Ideally, that's how all games would be for me. Real life quite often doesn't live up to that, so it's VERY important to me to know in advance how much lower to set my sights.
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Kirth, much like mpl, I think you are making things too binary. There are distinctions in GMing between "hard-ass" and "softball". Not being a complete hard-ass does not mean you are softballing.
I agree -- I'm using those endpoints because it's easy to contrast them and still demonstrate that BOTH of them can be fun. In point of fact, while my home game is often close to one or the other endpoint, my PBP is pretty well centered.
In the end, I think Kirth said it best when he said a GM has to clearly transmit their intent before accepting a player; I know I probably wouldn't want him as a GM (except maybe in the b-team), and I know I wouldn't want mlpindustries as a GM, and that is perfectly fine, we just have play styles that dont concur.
I'll never forget houstonderek's statement, before I DMed for him the first time: "If I do stupid things and my character doesn't die, I'm walking out that door and not coming back."
Contrast that with Mrs Gersen saying, "I just want a pet pony for my gnome, and I don't want things to be too icky or die-y."
The game is big enough for both of them -- just not at the same time, in the same place.
Mark Hoover wrote:
I don't expect my players, after a month off, to be as immersed/invested in my game as I am.
If we go a month between sessions, generally before we start playing everyone says, "So where were we, again?" And everyone pitches in what they remember. And if they're forgetting a clue that they totally caught onto a month ago, that's my chance to remind them of that.
The various plot threads in my home game were getting complex enough at one point that we took to posting stuff here, just so everyone could chew on it.
So, no, I wouldn't expect anyone to memorize sessions or anything.
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
The longer this thread goes, the more I am feeling like I have been too soft as a GM for too long. I haven't killed a PC in months. And the last best chance I had to do a TPK, I totally wussed out and downgraded an NPC instead of just letting it happen.
Like I said before, everyone has their own preferences. If your players are in the market for a softball DM, you do them no favors by suddenly starting to TPK them unexpectedly.
1. Overall, of course, we should strive not to make those mistakes up front. That said, if during the course of play I realize that the enemy I've been playing with X set of stats is too tough for the PCs, I don't suddenly switch him out for his dumber kid brother; instead, I prefer to warn the group using various in-game clues that he's maybe too tough for them -- in other words, maintain consistency, even if it means they need to think twice before just kicking his door in. I also use hero points, in case they miss the clues and/or just don't care. If they burst in anyway, maybe they carry the day through sheer luck (highly memorable), or maybe they use all their hero points and still die a hideous death (also highly memorable at times, if you ask houstonderek about the end of their Museum Heist adventure!)
2. No, I used it exactly correctly. What's "not fun" for you is often fun for me, so when you claim it's "badwrongfun," that's what you're doing -- telling me I'm doing it wrong. Especially when you start spouting about (capital) Fun in exactly the way that religious fanatics spout about (capital) Truth, forgetting that every other sect has a different idea of what that actually is.
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Is it the opinion of the "impartial GM" advocates here that choosing a less optimal attack, spell, or tactical option is just as bad as modifying the power level of an NPC? Does that sort of GM play their NPCs and monsters as lethally as they possibly can? Including all coup de grace opportunities?
To me, it means playing the bad guys as they supposedly are. Mindless creatures I try to play as being mindless. Enemies who have more important concerns than the PCs will stop and listen if they offer something more valuable than themselves. A cunning, ruthless enemy might coup de grace PCs who threaten to destroy his/her plans and/or kill him or her. Etc.
OK, they're finally onto Margaret St. Clair; I guess they read (or at least started) The Shadow People. Granted, my only experience with St. Clair was starting Sign of the Labrys in the library stacks one day, seeing a bunch of Vance I hadn't read, and putting dreary old Maggie back on the shelf after getting only a chapter into it... so I'm exactly not one talk about not finishing things.
D&D is a Game. Games should be Fun.
Not everyone's idea of what's "Fun" is the same, so maybe a lower-case "fun" would be a lot more appropriate. For example: For you it's "not fun" if your beloved PC dies. For me, the game actually loses most of its fun if my PC has no chance of dying.
Trying to make blanket statements about what's Fun and what's badwrongfun isn't a really useful pastime. What's more helpful, to me, is making sure that the people you're playing with are all together on their opinion, or at least know which way you lean and are on board with that.
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Kirth, why do you feel it is important for the GM to be held to the same standards as the players when it comes to running an encounter?
A couple of reasons. One is that I feel the game is better if the DM is impartial; and since that's hard to be, the way to come closer is to set rules for yourself to help ensure it. Another is pure personal preference; it offends my sense of tradecraft to have to "cheat" or resort to ad-libbing, because those imply that I failed in my prep. Finally, it has something to do with my sense that the hard line we draw between DM and players is slightly absurd and sometimes better smudged -- I'm all in favor of selective player entitlement and/or DM abrogation of powers to do that.
Anonymous Visitor 163 576 wrote:
There is a level of GM agency in the creation of e ogre lair in the first place. That's what makes it an ogre lair and not a fire giant lair or a goblin lair. So, at what point does the encounter building 'finish'? Where is the point where we say 'this encounter is complete and cannot be changed' when we are the people who invented it ?
Flip that around -- at what point does character building finish? I mean, no one gets to undo their last level advancement and redo it mid-encounter, right? So, as DM, I hold myself to pretty much the same rules. When I design a challenging encounter, I do it fairly (i.e., the PCs have a chance to survive unless they're stupid about it) and to the best of my ability (and I follow all the rules, down to the number of followers the bad guy has being determined by his/her leadership score). Once the game is actually in play, that encounter is set, in the same way the PCs are set. After the game, players are welcome to audit my adventure notes for inconsistencies (no one has taken me up on that, but I'd totally do it).
The one essential truth I've found is this:
If you're going to fudge dice and so on, make that clear at the beginning of the campaign. That way you don't need to mention it whenever you do it, but everyone knows what they're signing up for.
Likewise, if you won't fudge and let them die, make that clear at the outset also.
Lying to your players (even by omission) over something that essential to how the game runs is the absolute worst thing you can do as a DM.
I like to run two concurrent campaigns.
The "A" campaign will have optimized PCs, all rolls in the open, hard-mode tactical gaming. Sometimes the BBEG will go down like a chump. Sometimes he'll TPK the party, and I don't shed a tear. PC deaths happen; if yours dies, roll up another one if you can't get resurrected. If the fate of the world is at stake and you screw it up, then that campaign world suffers the consequences of that failure.
The "B" campaign will have experimental or "fun" PCs, no real emphasis on dice rolling, and overall will be soft-mode. Character death probably won't happen, but you'll be sure to get into all kinds of zany stuff -- the DM (me) gets to be experimental, too! The setting probably won't get destroyed by anything you do, but all kinds of unexpected stuff might get added in.
I don't think one is "better" than the other. Everyone just needs to be on board with which one you're playing, is all. If I'm in an "A" game and all fired up for hard-mode tactics, and the DM starts pulling punches so that the party "just barely" winds all the encounters, I'll probably quit that game because of the problem of incompatible goals/expectations. (If I make a "B" character and the DM pulls out a hard-mode game, I'll die quickly, so that problem is quickly self-correcting!)
Kelgan, untrained in any sort of carving, is having a hard time even with the teeth; every time he thinks he's done, he realizes they don't fit quite right. Getting a set that works might be an extended process with a lot of wasted raw material (i.e., you can take 20 in order to hit DC 15 for an OK set or DC 20 for a good one).
I may give penalties of some sort for the attack+move. Or, conversely, I may give a bonus if you don't move. Perhaps a +2 AC. Staying still isn't necessarily a worse option then, but the defualt assumption would become that people move and attack.
Simple fix: turn all the "teamwork" feats into "stance" feats. Instead of requiring an ally who knows the same feat (honestly, how often does that happen?), instead just require that the character be standing still to get the benefit.
Caspian Barefoot wrote:
"I want to try and get a piece big enough to make bongos, and maybe a sack for the bagpipes."
Neither Caspian nor Cricket has any training or experience in crafting instruments, nor in tanning leather, so you guys can grab smelly bits of scales with rotting meat still attached to them, scrape it off as best you can, and hope that you've got what you want...
When you hit 5th level, 1 rank each in a bunch of Crafts goes a long way, since you'll get the +3 class skill bonus. Unless you want to create magical items (which also requires another feat), there's no reason they need to be maxed out or anything.
Caspian's lore ability is right on -- dragon hide tend to make great armor! However, Wyvurn, who is busy butchering one of the things to cook over the campfire, says, "this hide is pretty thin, compared to what I imagine a full-size dragon's would be."
The drake's hides would make the equivalent of cool-looking studded leather armor, but that's about it.
I let PCs take a half-move and still full attack; they can get the full pounce ability by spending a feat. I also let them interspace their iterative attacks and movement (for example, a BAB +11 character could move 10 ft., make a couple of attacks, and, if he drops that guy, move five more feet and attack again).
With the nesting drakes dead, it's probably safe to camp nearby, provided you don't sleep too close to rotting corpses. Alone, Tsarok would probably find a nice, cozy burrow in the mud to sleep in, but the others (except maybe Jaegr, who spent most of his life underground...) would probably have issues with that sort of accommodation.
Cricket, even untrained in the B.S. spouted by organized religions, is pretty sure that Tsarok is totally making up all this stuff as he goes along -- but at least it seems sincere (either that, or the lizard man is a major-league disturb-o). That said, Cricket, as a druid of the Second Circle, can detect spirits at will, and he senses that the spirits of this place are not overly agitated. So whatever it is that the self-proclaimed shaman is doing, it at least doesn't seem to be hurting anything.
Wyvurn, bravely standing in the midst of a cloud of acid, slashes a deep, powerful wound along the monster's neck. The monster wails in agony, heavily wounded, and as it rears back, Jaegr manages to draw a dagger and plunge it to the hilt between the drake's scales. With a shudder, the creature collapses to the ground and is still.
I once walked into a campaign with a TWF rogue I was very happy with, only to be told that the DM was using a "natural 1s are fumbles" rule. After a couple of fumbles in the first session, I stopped using TWF and just accepted the fact that I had wasted my only feat on something that, in that campaign, was an active impediment to me in combat. As if the -2 to attacks for a 0 BAB character wasn't bad enough! He later offered to make a new feat that would limit me to one fumble a round, and I realized that, after paying for improved two-weapon fighting, double slice, and all that, it just wasn't worth it. I spent the next two sessions showboating through RP and just accepted that I wasn't really allowed to be a real combatant.
Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:
I must say: I am very disappointed in you, Kirth.
Well, I suppose that's better than when I admitted I didn't much like Tolkien, and a bunch of people fell all over themselves to pile on and declare that I was objectiovely wrong and stupid for not being a gushing fanboy... In that regard, I fully expected that also not being a Beatles fan would get me excommunicated from humanity. "Very disappointed" almost sounds like gentle praise, in comparison!
After I nearly broke the speed of sound changing the station when one of those stupid "Hold Your Hand" songs came on the radio, Mrs Gersen asked me if there were any Beatles songs I didn't hate. I decided that wasn't really fair -- stuff like "Let It Be" doesn't really do anything for me, but I don't care enough about it to hate it or anything -- so I decided to set a real challenge for myself and find 5 Beatles songs that I actually like. This proved to be difficult.
So far, I've assembled a list of four: "Tomorrow Never Knows," "Strawberry Fields Forever," "I Am the Walrus," and "A Day in the Life." Given their total songs list is up in the several hundreds, one would assume I could find another one and finish my task, but I've failed so far. Any suggestions?
Dan Rope wrote:
If Charisma is indeed a "force of personality that stems from an inner confidence in oneself" then why Will saves are tied to Wisdom?
Because the game rules make no sense.
I liked Victory Games "Perception" and "Willpower" stats a lot better than "Wisdom" and "Charisma." It was a whole lot clearer which stat was doing what, and why, and it left the social stuff like Diplomacy as skills, which they should be.