I'd propose that players rotate in a "color commentator" role. Basically, after the stats are announced, that player's job is to describe what just happened in colorful narrative terms. At my tables, as a player and as a DM, I get so busy that I forget to do this consistently. Having a new player each round take care of it is a good way to activate the off-screen space, so to speak, in a way that promotes a more memorable game.
Sometimes you really have to strain to push material out and sometimes it just gushes out in a flood...
I'd be inclined to support creative applications of spells, so yes, that or holy water as an effect. By RAW, the fact that it is an ooze would probably mean it is a no, lest it set a precedent.
I'm actually quite entertained by this thought experiment, I don't see why you have to get personal. I like DnD as a creative endeavor. To each his own evidently.
Prince, it was an attempt at humor. I'm also trying to model what the other party members could do in this scenario. That would definitely be the rogue or ninja's take, for example. The idea that no other player at the table can or will do something here is laughable.
Bad collaborative storytelling is usually either-or options. Good collaborative storytelling allows there to be multiple creative ways to deal with the problem.
I take it that murdering the child, then casting resurrection later is not an option? Because that would be, what, wrong?
I take it that there are no casters with illusions that could cover for stealing the child?
I take it that the entire party is not using fly spells?
I take it that one person can't be flying, rescue the boy, while the rest of the party dimension doors to the other room and beats the crap out of your protagonist?
I take it that the party face can't negotiate with the unseen BBEG?
I take it that nobody has disintegrate for the door?
I take it nobody can polymorph the child into a flying creature?
Time stop? Anybody?
And, if they don't have these resources, is it really plausible that the party will survive a trip to Hell?
If you go through with this scenario, I want you to be very forgiving of creative solutions like these and other ones and let the players escape your no-win scenario...
Try this encounter I ran, it was pretty successful:
The party comes upon a crowd that has gathered outside a fire making its way through six buildings: three on one street and the three that abut those building's rear sides on a parallel street. The people in the crowd have varied reactions to the fire. Some gawk at the fire. Others from nearby buildings race to save their own possessions. Others linger near these piles of goods, eyeing them for something to snatch. Still others, from the burning buildings, shout and frantically comb the crowd looking for loved ones. No authorities are in sight, likely due to the riots. If the fire's going to be prevented from spreading, it'll be up to the party.
If the players try to get a bucket brigade going, they'll need to direct the crowd, which requires them to get the crowd's attention and then succeed at a Diplomacy DC 15 check or an Intimidate DC 20 check. PCs can aid in this action by finding or supplying suitable implements for a bucket brigade (Search DC 15) and finding the nearest public well for the PC who's directing the crowd, as the crowd offers conflicting answers (Knowledge: Local DC 15 or Survival DC 15). Success contains the fire to these 6 buildings. Alternatively, the PCs can risk the fire spreading by using the bucket brigade to aid PCs attempting to rescue trapped people in the buildings. (This tactic will make smoke and fire effect checks occur half as frequently.)
The characters can hear sounds of movement and cries of distress from the burning buildings with a successful Listen check, DC 5. There's a -2 circumstance penalty due to the crackling of the fire and the sounds of the crowd on the street. Remember that there's a -1 penalty per 10 feet of distance. For every 5 points by which the PC succeeds, give him one more piece of information, in order: Building 1 has sounds of movement; it's coming from the first floor in Building 1; Building 2B (building behind the center building facing the PCs) has very faint, high-pitched cries for help; there are two sources of sound in Building 2B. Multiple "low successes" do not reveal information about Building 2B.
To get closer to the buildings requires pushing through the crowd. Each square counts as difficult terrain, unless the PC (or the lead PC of a group moving together) bulls through the crowd with a Strength check, DC 15.
[If they enter the building, the game mechanics for smoke, heat, collapsing ceilings and floors, explosions and backdrafts can be found in DMG2, page 48-9. A brief summary follows.)
Heat: While there may be isolated fires for dramatic tension, these effects occur on floors largely on fire. Roll 1d6 lethal fire damage per minute. The PCs must make a Fort 15 save every 5 minutes or take 1d4 nonlethal and fatigued due to heat stroke. Endure elements eliminates the need for the latter check.
Smoke: While there may be smoke present for general atmosphere, smoke effects appear only on the top floor, or the top two floors if the players delay or go into three buildings or more. On smoke floors, have the PC roll Fort 15 1/round, with each successive check getting 1 harder, e.g. DC 16 on round 2. Failure means a round spend coughing and choking. Two consecutive failures cause 1d6 nonlethal damage. These floors present a 20 percent miss chance and a -4 to Search. I recommend the house rule that PCs that spend a round breathing fresh air reset the Fort save back to 15.
Holding Breath: A PC can hold their breath for 2x their Constitution score in rounds. After that, they must make a Fort save each round: Fort 10 for round 1, Fort 11 for round 2, etc.
Search: No taking 10 or 20! To search for a conscious person requires a Search 15 and five rounds. (A Listen 15 reduces the time spent by 1 round, plus 1 round per 5 points that the check succeeds by. A Knowledge: Architecture 20 check for knowing residential building layouts does the same.) An unconscious person requires a DC 20 to find. Don't forget the Smoke penalties! Only 1-2 searches should be required per floor, as the PCs quickly scan each room they have access to. Feel free to "advance" fire and smoke effects to new floors if the PCs take a long time in the DM's opinion.
An alley connects all six buildings.
Building 1: This building is to the left of the PCs on the street they're on.
The first floor has no fire or smoke effects. A successful search uncovers a family behind a closed, but not locked, door. The father is frantically pushing aside furniture and attempting to pry up the floorboards to get at the family's life savings. The mother and her three children watch anxiously. A Diplomacy 20 will get the man to leave, while aiding his actions will consume 1 minute of time but earn his gratitude. As the PCs get the family out, they say that they think they heard someone upstairs still. A failed Intimidate check convinces the man that the PC is a looter.
The second floor has fire effects. A successful search check brings the PCs to a kitchen in a hastily exited apartment. A Spot 15 alerts the PC to the presence of a large tin jug of cooking oil near a fire and allows them to act in a surprise round before the explosion. Explosion causes 3d6 fire and 2d6 shrapnel. (Feel free to scale the fire damage down based on your party's resources.)
The third floor has both fire and smoke effects. There is no one up hear, but the alley carries the sounds of nearby buildings very clearly. Listen 10 identifies that it's Building 2B that actually has people crying for help in it. Listen 20 reveals that their source is both the second and third floors.
Building 2: This building is in front of the PCs on the street they are on. Three Search DC 15 checks will uncover a TOTAL of one randomly rolled first level treasure (DMG 52) sprinkled throughout the three floors. Only the roof is on fire.
Building 3: This building is to the right of the PCs on the street they are on. It has been shoddily maintained over the years, and the fire has further eroded its structural integrity.
The first floor is filled with rubble. A climb 10 will be necessary to climb the rubble to the second floor.
The second floor has fire effects. In the stairwell between the second and third floors is a passed out drunk.
The third floor has fire and smoke effects. A Search of the third floor reveals a trapdoor in the ceiling hidden by the smoke. It is a pull-down stair to an attic. A Spot 25 notices smoke being sucked through the cracks in the trapdoor up into the attic, while a Search 20 notices that the trapdoor feels hot. If the PCs open the trapdoor, a 30' radius fireball goes off due to the backdraft in the attic (5d6 fire, Reflex DC 15 to halve the damage.)
Building 1B: This building is behind the building to the left of the PCs, facing a parallel street to the one they are on. Only the top floor has fire and smoke effects. Three Search DC 15 checks will uncover a TOTAL of one randomly rolled first level treasure (DMG 52) sprinkled throughout the three floors. The PCs automatically find a cat trapped on the second floor. A Handle Animal DC 15 check will be necessary to calm the animal.
Building 2B: This building is behind the building in front of the PCs, facing a parallel street to the one they are on. This building is where the fire started and the flames are most widespread and intense here.
The first floor has fire effects active. There is nothing to find here.
The second floor has fire effects. A Listen 15 check will locate the source of the feeble cries for help as being from behind a locked door. A Strength 15 check will bust down the relatively frail door in the round of the success or an Open Locks 15 will open the shoddy lock, but that action takes 1 minute. In this apartment is an old man, an invalid, who tells the PCs that his granddaughter may have been trapped while playing upstairs.
The third floor has fire and smoke effects. A successful search finds a room with a bed in the windowless far corner of the room. A Spot 15 will detect the little girl under the bed from across the room, although a PC who gets down on their knees gets a +5 bonus to this check. In between the door to the room and the bed is a 7' wide hold in the floor of much of the room, traversed by a single flaming support beam. Getting to the bed requires a Jump or a Balance 15. The girl, in shock, will require coaxing to get her to come out.
Building 3B: This building is behind the building to the right of the PCs, facing a parallel street to the one they are on. One Search DC 15 check will discover an un-armored Rogue 2 looter who's acquired a randomly rolled first level treasure (DMG 52) in addition to his standard gear, sans armor. Only the roof is on fire.
Try a goblin alchemist with a trait that gives you stealth as a class skill. Stealth bonuses: +4 size, +4 race, +4 skill (1 rank and +3 for class bonus) +4 dex (the +4 bonus to dex means it's easy to start with a 18). At first level, you'll be rocking a +16 for stealth BEFORE you start adding mutagens and reduce person extracts to the mix.
And flavor? Oh my god... If you need to play nice with the others, try a "raised by humans" back story.
Taason the Black wrote:
Yep. My goblin alchemist gets his AC up to 28 by second level with ordinary leather armor. It requires going nova on extracts and mutagen, but after that I still have drow poison for my crossbow, tons of potions to help myself and others (enlarge person plus earth breaker for party fighter = awesome), bombs, and a 20+ stealth bonus. I am never out of things to do: tank, direct damage, scout, sticky bombs and tanglefoot bags for battlefield control, knowledge guy, crafting...
Alchemists are perfect one PC campaign material, as well as awesome for traditional parties.
Since you are all friends, I suggest stalling. Get "sick" and cancel game to let everyone take a breath and settle down. If he is still spoiling for a fight in two weeks, stop the game at PvP, say this isn't worth damaging friendships, and say you are no longer having fun. Bring a collaborative board game like lord of the rings or pandemic to get everyone on the same side.
To ?!?, with this kind of drama.
Look thru the special materials and see if there is something that your players could craft into an appropriate item. This shouldn't be just a spell. Ther should be a contribution from everyone involved and something they have a hand in thinking up.
I can't tell you how many times players have done my brainstorming for me.
I am about to have my campaign enter a riddle battle of PCs vs. a Sphinx. I am looking for advice. First, what are good riddles you've used? What are good resources for riddles? Second, does this kind of encounter need game mechanics, or is it just straight RP? Third, how well or poorly have riddle-based encounters worked in your games?
How do you bring settings alive when your PCs are not going to be there long due to the urgency of the plot and don't have time to explore the new cities and their customs?
I generally don't do campaigns with lots of travel; I tend to prefer PCs be embedded in a few communities they know well. But now, I find myself in a portion of the campaign where the player is high level and going to be globe-trotting for a while. So I would love tips on how to efficiently make a setting come alive when your PC is unlikely to be in the country for more than a day.
Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:
I never asked him to cast a spell. I asked him to purchase a wand and use that, with examples being magic missile, acid arrow or flaming sphere.
I'm aware of that. I'm also aware that he needs to be a team player at the table and respect his teammates wishes by making a minimal investment. He doesn't have to redefine his character. He just needs a viable option for when he doesn't want or need to use up memorized spells. It's not unreasonable.
To quote a wise man about taking risks, "Lady, you're my kind of stupid." I think that's the best way to understand fighters: they ARE the brave ones, the ones who go where angels fear to tread. They do it without divine support, advanced technology, or unknowable arcane power.
Fighters aren't ordinary. They're extraordinary.
In one campaign, my buffing-focused cleric refers to the melee characters humorously, "Damn fighters, asking for buffs and heals all the time! It's like the only words they know are 'I need! I need!' Alright, so what is it THIS time?"
They know I'm kidding because my entire character is designed for buffing.
mcv: Buy a wand of magic missiles or acid arrow. For the GOD wizard you're playing, it's perfectly appropriate to do damage when you have nothing better to do. Any spell that does damage over multiple rounds is awesome for this: your damage dealers feel like you are helping and you conserve resources while "acting" every round. Flaming sphere is a good damage battlefield control spell for when you have nothing better to do or feel like you need to save your resources for BBEG.
For once, FOR ONCE!, you can have an effective infiltration campaign in Pathfinder. All too often only 1 person in the classic four man band is specced for scouting, so they go off and inevitably they fail a check and face a threat designed for the entire party alone for several rounds/minutes. No matter how you build your character, being a scout in Pathfinder is a death sentence. It may take four encounters, it may take 20. My stealthy character's response to my party when they want me to scout is, humorously, "Me not expendable."
Don't make them get a clanky tank. Emphasize that they all have to maximize their strengths. Take stealth and perception, illusions and charms, and silent spell. Enjoy a campaign where the players are cunning and their characters can actually put those plans into action.
You as a DM have to incentivize this behavior. You cannot thwart every infiltration mission simply because it's easier for you to DM a dungeon crawl. You cannot make the "one blown check always has catastrophic consequences" mistake: it's bad storytelling. Given them chances to cover for mistakes... like every heist movie ever made.
You will know your success when one of your players quotes the A-Team: "I love it when a plan comes together."
I would rule that familiars can aid another on most skills that they couldn't use solo. To use Set's example, your rat familiar could fetch tools, point at a part of the boat design plan, remind you to take a break when you're tired by being cute, etc.
As a DM, you should try to find ways to say yes to things. Even better when your players get in the habit of convincing you with creativity rather than RAW.
Curse of the Crimson Throne is by far the best traditional AP: city-based so they know the setting well, there's clear lines of narrative, good variety in missions, very flavorful, and every class has a chance to shine.
Kingmaker is great if your players like world-building, kingdom-running, lots of freedom of choice sandbox adventures. That also goes for Skull and Shackles.
If your players prefer "classic" DnD then Legacy of Fire is your best bet if Runelords is off the table. It's also pretty easy to shorten it and have a manageable path that ends sooner.
If they like dungeon crawls, Shattered Star is basically only that, so they'll be happy to kick down the door while they guzzle beer and pretzels.
Second Darkness is very badly designed, doing a bait and switch early (the first two modules suggest you'll be staying local, then you leave and never come back), gaping logic holes (the elves are jerks, why are we saving them? twice!), massive requirements from the DM (there's not nearly enough support for the underdark, the last battle of the siege of the elves requires literally more than a dozen complex NPCs and Monsters for you to run). There's pieces that you can nick for your own campaigns, and some parts are very good, but man... not their finest effort.
As someone who met his wife at a game and did a One PC game with her during our dating and marriage, I have a few bits of advice:
There's going to be a lot more RP. You want to start collecting NPCs with memorable RP hooks--NOT BUILDS--that will help you when you need a chef, a fence, a dotty wizard, a guardsman, etc.
Always have a few different threads to get to the important places you need the character to go. You would not believe how demanding making all the decisions and having no one to brainstorm with is. So, the ferret's a good start to have someone to brainstorm with, but don't be afraid to add more companions, especially ones that you can dramatically kill in combat.
Kill a beloved NPC early. Don't make it a punishment for bad decision-making, but do it in a relatively important combat to show that there are stakes in these combats.
You've got your comic relief. Start giving options for your romantic B-plot. You want stereotypes of the rom-com romantic triangle here: the bad boy, the devoted one, the funny one, the rich one, sexy evil tempting one, the one that brings out the nurturer in her, etc. And you absolutely cannot be offended if her character sleeps with them all, cheats on her significant others, etc. This is a fantasy, not what she'd really do.
There's an obvious upside for you as DM if you design the romance plots well. Just sayin'.
The companion NPCs you build are NOT DMPCs. Never think of them that way. They are there to put the PC in the spotlight and support them. The build should always be inferior. Use "under the hood" feats that improve stats rather than complicated builds with lots of combat options. You want feats like Weapon Focus, Iron Will, Dodge. Try to stick to core-only for helper characters. You have WAY too much on your hands to be playing a complicated sidekick. And again, it makes your wife's PC the star, as she should be.
I recommend using an ancestral weapon that gets better as you do, rather than constantly looting the dead. It's cool and it allows the player to custom design their character. See here for a 3.5 way of doing it: http://dndtools.eu/feats/book-of-exalted-deeds--52/ancestral-relic--70/
Have some backup side adventures, in case she takes the left turn at a plot choice.
Good ol' magic missile. I had a new player have her character close her eyes to try to avoid getting hit by that spell.
Modify Memory. I let a player treat it like psychic surgery to heal trauma victims.
My player's used Charm Person early in fights to talk down the big bad. Then there's a game of wits between GM and player, as the player tries to get the villain to the cops without granting the victim a second save. If you don't freak out about ruining your GM plans, it can lead to great role playing.
My absolute favorite though is from 3.5.: benign transposition and malign transposition. The chance to switch people on the battle field is all kinds of tactical awesome, both on offense and defense.
The campaign: It's a time of crisis in the pantheon. All the demigods have to build faith share on the prime material plane or lose their spot in the pantheon. So every god with obscure, narrow, or unpopular portfolios has been picking a representative to make their case to humanity... while some of the evil avatars have been killing off the competition.
The PC in this one player game has been chosen by the demigoddess of good luck. (Not luck. Not bad luck.) She's done very well, allying with the Seelie Court of the Fae and the avatar of the aranea. She's defeated the avatars of bad luck, monstrous births (Lamashtu), the Unseelie Court, Zon Kuthon, and dwarven toil. She's met the avatar of rabbits, the avatar of worms and decay, the one of familiars, and the one of babbling brooks.
She's racing to Osirion to beat the Thrice-Damned House of Thrune's archaeological teams' attempts to uncover the Pact Stone and the mysteries of a pyramid lost to time. Queen Domina hopes to become a Herald of Asmodeus. (The Andoran revolution has just happened, sparked by Aroden's death, so Asmodeus' faith share is not secure.) The PC hopes to uncover an artifact that will spur her on to becoming a Herald, which is completed at... The Test of the Starstone.
The Chelaxians have a minor, ambitious pharaoh and permission to dig at one of the sites.