116. Create a large room in the dungeon, empty except for a large, checkered tile floor, with indecipherable runes written on some of the tiles. If they ask to detect magic or decipher script etc, have them roll for it, consult your notes, and then tell them they don't figure out anything (consider having the floor be enchanted with a prestidigitation effect that keeps it clean and shiny, just so there's a vague aura to detect).
P.S. For clarification's sake, I used our gender-neutral pronoun "it" when referring to people in order to hide gender, even though "it" is not acceptable when referring to a person. I just dislike using "his or her" because of how clunky it is, and I've had enough of grammar to learn that "their" is considered improper (though I've read it both ways).
I found it confusing to read. Why do you feel the need to hide gender in the first place? We're pretty respectful around here - I don't think anyone would balk at someone in a same-sex relationship, or at a gamer who considers themselves transgender or intersex.
Jesus, people need to give players a break when they roll high on the random encounter chart!
Coming from a GM's perspective, I'd say the player's need to give us a break when we roll high on the encounter charts!
GM: There's a rustling in the grass to your right. As you look closer, you realize it's a werewolf ready to pounce. If you run away right now you can probably-
I can't not share this one...
Name: Dave the Warrior; Alonso the Tengu
Most of the party enjoyed picking off mites (with low AC and 3 HP, they were "popping them like pimples" (their words not mine)), but with no mites within range, Dave charged the giant tick, Tickleback (whose rider, the chief mite, was felled in the first shot of combat). Dave was quickly snatched up into the tick's mandibles.
The next round, Dave failed in his attempt to escape the clutches of Tickleback. On Tickleback's turn, he made a grapple check to bite Dave, and rolled a natural 20. He confirmed the critical, and Dave's head was chomped off and his body exsanguinated.
Dave's player, already frustrated that he was playing a hireling instead of his main PC, was understandably bummed when Dave snuffed it. To keep him involved in the game, I let him start rolling for Tickleback.
His first roll came up when Tickleback chomped onto Alonso, the tengu rogue. He rolled well, and Alonso failed his Escape Artist check to slip free. The next round, Tickleback's new player rolled to bite the grappled rogue. He rolled a natural 20, followed by a 17 - more than enough to confirm the critical. The whole table watched as he rolled the d6's for Tickleback's bite, one by one. The first one came up 6. If the critical hit wasn't bad enough, now he was rolling high. Breaths were held around the table as the second d6 clattered across maps and character sheets, finally coming to rest...on a 6.
A critical hit for max damage, rolled by the player whose character had just been killed by a critical hit from the same beast. The tengu was deader than dead, but it was an incredible moment, and happened right at the end of the session. Dave/Tickleback's player kept apologizing to Alonso's player, but he couldn't keep the smile from his face.
This will be one of those gaming stories that gets told many times. :)
You and me both. Once my game gets in to kingdom building, I know there's going to be lots of "Job's done!" and "Ready to work!" jokes (as well as "Gortook!" and "Glubnar!" jokes).
Re: Point Buy
I usually do 4d6-drop-lowest for my games (sometimes with reroll 1's), but since this is my first time running an AP, I decided to go with the "standardization" of point buy. 15 felt a little low to me, since my players are often spoiled when it comes to ability scores - they absolutely refuse to have a stat under 10, and one player kept talking about how he was making his PC "stupid" by putting a 10 in Int.
Anyhow, I decided to go with a 17 point buy. This is essentially the same thing as a standard elite array, only with a 10 instead of an 8, allowing my players to avoid the dreaded negative modifier and still take an 18 if they really want to (everything else would be at a 10).
It seemed to work for them...although one player, unaccustomed to point-buy, was apparently overwhelmed by the decision making process and came back with a PC whose stat array before racial adjustments was 12, 13, 13, 13, 13, 13. Sigh...
Some of mine (yes I know that some were already mentioned but I am vetning as well):
See, I would tend to side with the players in your examples.
#1 was completely within the rules in making a fighter with ranks in Spellcraft. It was a decision that probably disadvantaged him often, and when it would actually come into play, you punished him for not optimizing.
#2 made a flavor decision that had no real impact on the game, and he got punished for that as well (although not in a mechanical sense).
#3 also made a flavor decision. He was using his PC's background to explain why he was a barbarian. Then you smack him down when he wants to take an action that you disagree with? And you prohibit him from choosing a legal class to level up in? It sounds to me like you're punishing this player for putting some thought and flavor into his character's background.
So, what you're saying is that you want to be able to discuss mathematics, statistics, and other really crunchy stuff without people chiming in with "Well, most GMs would never do such-and-so" or "I would simply houserule that this worked in a different way."
I think this is perfectly reasonable.
FWIW, I happen to be one of the people whose eyes glaze over during the first few lines of a post that breaks down the statistical outcome of a given level 20 statblock. I'd much rather come to my conclusions via Rule 0.
Which is exactly why I don't post in threads devoted to such things. I'm sure that most of the people involved in such exercises wouldn't get so crunchy if they were making a ruling at the table, but that's not the point: the threads should be reserved for theoretical statistics etc.