Captain Elreth

mem0ri's page

Goblin Squad Member. Organized Play Member. 100 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 6 Organized Play characters.

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It may be something that most gamers and gaming tables accept without a second thought, but one of my biggest pet peeves is when people start sharing all their stats in order to figure out who's the best at something so that person can attempt it:

GM: As the remains of the once proud inn continue to burn behind you, a very stern looking guardsman approaches. With a hand on the hilt of his sword and other guardsmen fanning out behind him he says "Someone better have a good explanation for this ...

PLAYER 1: I bet we can diplo out of this ... who's got the best diplomacy? I've got +3

PLAYER 2: I've got +2

PLAYER 3: +6

PLAYER 4: +4

PLAYER 1: Alright, PLAYER 3 rolls diplomacy and the rest of us try to assist.

I don't have anything against players sharing their character talents with each other, but, in my opinion, it should be something like, "As a Taldoran noble, I'm rather skilled in the art of diplomacy".

Nothing annoys me more than reducing a story with potentially interesting characters to colorless number-crunching.

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I feel for you, but I've got to say that in 23 years of gaming I have yet to run into the issue you describe. Why can't the party move on without the barbarian and come back around to the curse side-quest when she's able to play again? It's just about being flexible as to when player specific events occur ...

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My favorite is allowing a character's mundane equipment to become magical based on heroic feats (or follies). Doing so allows them to become 'attached' to something like an heirloom weapon or a ratty old backpack and gives life to the character's equipment ... rather than just throwing old stuff out when a shiny magical item appears.

Basically ... it works exactly like giving someone magic items ... just sometimes items transform from mundane to magical rather than being stuff in a treasure horde.

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I think everyone here has already made the point that you're ready to DM. I'd like to offer a few small bits of advice, especially as it pertains to first pitfalls and to building a world:


1 - Don't stress the rules, just play the way you and your group have been playing (at least for a while). You probably already know most of the rules your table follows -- including house rules -- and can ad-lib the rest when you need.

2 - Accept that you will need time to get comfortable in the DM seat and that you will make mistakes.

3 - Don't let players talk you into stuff you don't want to allow just because you're unsure of a rule. Conversely, don't be so strict on them that the game isn't any fun. This rule of 'moderation' is probably one of the most challenging for a new DM.

4 - Don't "railroad" your players. Railroading is when a DM forces a group to say on a set path, not allowing any deviation from the prepared scenario/campaign. A player will be happier if you allow a little deviation (even if you screw up horribly with the free form) than if you railroad them down a set path.

5 - Do engage your players. Ask them about their favorite RP experiences, about classes they like, and about experiences they find tedious or boring. You may know a lot of this info already, but I always find more insight on my players just by talking about old gaming sessions even after 20 years. You'll get insights into what motivates your players and how to make things fun for them.


1 - DO NOT BUILD EVERYTHING AT ONCE ... build a general idea and flesh out a very basic history ... and then accept that your world will build organically over time. The entire general idea, basic history, and list of races/classes available should not take more than 3 typed pages. It should be that simple.

2 - Talk to your players about the type of campaign they would like and then start detailing out the starting location for the campaign that results.

3 - When you have a starting area (including at least a little map of the area), talk about the setting with your players and engage THEM to flesh out more details during their character creation process. Players can give you ideas for character homelands, minor world history events, town/village/city/kingdom names, topography, etc. You'll take it all in and make sure it fits your world before accepting it of course (maybe with an adjustment or two) ... but this step allows you to both avoid doing all the work yourself AND engage players further into the campaign and get them invested in the game world.

4 - PUT YOUR GAME WORLD ON A WIKI. Seriously. You will lose pieces of paper. You won't be able to navigate a .doc very well. Put stuff on a wiki (mediawiki is the framework used for Wikipedia and is free ... if you're not at all tech savvy, there are many services that offer a sort of wiki for you at very low cost). The beautiful thing about a wiki doesn't lie just in being able to navigate your info easily or in keeping everything from being lost ... but also in being able to assign everyone in the group a tag and allowing players to make proposals to the game world when they wish (again, subject to your review).

5 - Notice that I haven't mentioned a world map at all? I'm not saying one isn't important ... but it's less important than fleshing out and individual campaign and building a custom world is A LOT of work. If you really want, just sketch out a very basic game world map ... but fill in the details only as you need them. Your players will understand and really ... will characters know EVERYTHING about their world? It's still a mystery to the characters ... why can't it be to the players as well?

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I use sense motive in a way that's very different from sensing truth or lie. My purpose in using it is to allow the character a sense of whether or not the target is basically acting deceitful, out of malice, in self-interest, altruistically, etc.

A person can be telling the truth and hate you for it ... in that sense, a successful roll might result in me telling the players "You sense that this person really doesn't like you."

A person can be telling the truth, but acting on purely selfish, and not entirely 'good', goals: "You get the feeling that so-and-so is telling you more for his own benefit than for yours."

Etc, etc, etc.

(I should add ... I usually don't actually mention whether the target of Sense Motive is telling the truth or a lie, though I do try to hint one way or another based on success/failure ... with greater successes giving strong hints).

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I'd say that what you're looking at are two separate issues:

1 - Players who aren't bothering to take the responsibility to handle their own characters (know their rolls/bonuses/etc). In that case, a player should not be getting bonuses to their roll that they forgot to apply themselves. Pretty soon after instituting that rule, everyone always remembers their own bonuses and things move more smoothly.

(Remember that 1E and 2E could also get very complicated if you wanted -- including charts for bonuses/penalties of each weapon against each different type of armor).

2 - The 'fantasy' level of DnD/Pathfinder 3E+ is huge. It is. You can try to pair it down, but it's naturally a very super-fantasy game. I remember, before Pathfinder was released, our group actually created our version of Medium and Slow advancement charts because the 3E advancement was insanely fast.

In my gaming group, those of us who are the more 'serious' players would very much like to switch systems/games, but the more 'lazy' players just don't want to bother learning a whole new rule set. So ... we stick with Pathfinder and just do the best we can. It's not terrible ... but I really do miss 1E and 2E sometimes.

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Mergy wrote:
Mine has charged through fire to get to his enemy multiple times. He's also accepted his enemy's surrender. While on fire.

And that ... is what being a Paladin is all about. I love it.

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Just like the one ring to rule them all, there is one act to rule them all in improving your "role play" (and yet, just as there were many rings beholden to the one ring, there are many pieces to this act):

Dive into, and play according to, your character's persona.

More important than anything else in role-playing is to build a character persona. Who are they and how do they see the world around them? Figuring that out will help you to understand how they will act or react in given situations and how much the results of those situations will affect them going forward.

People always start with backgrounds ... and that's good, but the point of a background isn't just to give people something cool to think about. It's to build a reason for why your character's persona is what it is. It helps you flesh out how they think, what they do, who they trust, and what is important to them. THAT is the important part.

Think of a very basic character goal before you do ANYTHING else in your character creation. It should be really simple, giving a pretty straight forward sort of 'mission statement' of your character:
* Protect the downtrodden
* Discover of hidden knowledge
* Seek redemption for a prior heinous act
* Quest for glory
* etc

A primary motivating factor is very important. It helps color all of your decisions.

Next, come up with a very basic description of the character:
* sheltered academic
* barbaric shaman
* religiously-devout noble
* selfless street rat
* etc

Now you've got what you need to build a backstory. You have a motivation and a 'who you are'. Start thinking of what made you who you are, and especially what might bring your character to the starting point of the campaign.

With both of these things figured, and at least a basic background thought up, you can start building your statistical character. Use this opportunity to further flesh your persona. Did you roll poorly for one stat? Which should it be? Why? If point buying ... why are you putting more points into one stat than another? Are you using one or two stats as 'dump' stats? Why? ANSWER EVERYTHING IN STATISTICAL CHARACTER CREATION THROUGH YOUR CHARACTERS PERSONA. Give them a REASON for having skills and feats ... and, in fact, if a skill or feat does not make sense for what you've built persona-wise, do not take it. If you've built a real persona, you're not going to "gimp" yourself ... you're just going to build a character that makes sense.

With your statistical character fleshed out, you should have enough of an idea of who you're about to play. At that point, it's all about "getting into character". Challenge yourself to think in the mind of your character ... "dive in" to your persona.

* Are 20 ft. rock golems something you see every day? Or are they something you may be cautious of charging into melee with?

* Do you like or trust the mayor who wants to send you on a quest?

* You've just spent a whole day slogging through the rain ... is your character REALLY doing just fine even though no hit points have been lost? ( I'd argue they're probably in a pretty rotten mood )

* You just found a huge pile of treasure ... what are you going to do with it? Build a castle? Take care of mom and dad? Give it to the poor? Donate to your church? Spend it on beer and women (or men)?

Think of every situation as your character would think of the situation, not as you ... the player of many games who knows what his/her DM tends to do ... would think of the situation.

Ok ... my second tl;dr post of the day ... I'm stopping here ... I've got more to say but I think the basic premise is there.

Last note ... one of my least favorite things in gaming is when the battle mat comes out and people start talking to each other "If you move 3 squares that way and circle around here we can flank goblin 23". Why not "Kelthor! Get around and flank this bugger!"? Seriously. Same thing ... one is ridiculously "game-y" and the other is role-playing.

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For questions 2 and 3 ... play your first few sessions by the rules before making such decisions.

Once you and your group are 'in a groove', you can start tinkering with things you feel can be improved. Don't expect to get it right the first time. Tinker and improve ... then tinker more and improve further. Pull out house rules that end up just not working. Keep house rules that do work. The real secret here is to do it as a group and keep communication open, honest, and complete.

In the end ... also remember that the DnD/Pathfinder system may not be perfect, but it's been around for a very, very, very long time. There are reasons the rules exist as they do ... trust that the game designers generally knew what they were doing and when/if you make adjustments, try to make them relatively minor.

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Gorbacz wrote:
What's the falling velocity of an unladen swallow?

African or European swallow?