New to DnD, please help?


3.5/d20/OGL

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MisterSlanky wrote:
Viletta Vadim wrote:
MisterSlanky wrote:


Almost forgot...
My one piece of DM related advice?

Tell them you play with the PH, and the DMG nothing more. Do not allow ANYTHING from any of the other books until you feel you're ready to adjudicate how they will impact your game. This will ruffle feathers, but you'll be a lot better off.

-1

A lot of the material from the splats is, in fact, much simpler than core material. A Warlock or a Warmage is simpler than a Wizard or a Sorcerer. A Favored Soul is simpler that a Cleric. Don't ban the splats; just make K.I.S.S. a rule.

Hardly,

Your argument makes absolutely no sense for a new player.

I must agree with Slansky and disagree with Viletta.

"Splatbooks" are given that name for a reason. Expecting a Noob DM (who has never before even played) to cherry-pick, much less adjudicate, their way through a splat-book full of broken and over-powered mods is a recipe for disaster.

You want to K.I.S.S.? Then keep down the number of books.

IMHO,

Rez


Rezdave wrote:

"Splatbooks" are given that name for a reason. Expecting a Noob DM (who has never before even played) to cherry-pick, much less adjudicate, their way through a splat-book full of broken and over-powered mods is a recipe for disaster.

You want to K.I.S.S.? Then keep down the number of books

I don't expect a newbie to cherry-pick a thing. I expect the players (the OP's friends) to cherry-pick. And the adjudication is Class A versus Class B, Feat A versus Feat B. Standard exchange, all printed out nice and clean as the PHB. Cleaner, even.

A new DM needs help from the entire group. If the OP cannot trust the group to help, that is a major problem. If the new DM can trust the group (as he should be able to; after all, they're his friends), then he can trust them to make simple selections on their own.

More books has zero impact on how complicated things are, as when things get going, you're going to have four races, four classes, five feats, and twenty spells, no matter where they come from. The innate complexity of every given element is what matters, not where they come from.

The way it goes is the players make their characters, then take the OP by the hand and explain what their character is and what they can do. This process is necessary no matter what splats are allowed, whether it's PHB-only or considerably broader. Whether it's sitting down and explaining a Cleric and all her spells and abilities or sitting down and explaining a Warlock and all her spells and abilities.


Viletta Vadim wrote:

I don't expect a newbie to cherry-pick a thing. I expect the players (the OP's friends) to cherry-pick. And the adjudication is Class A versus Class B, Feat A versus Feat B. Standard exchange, all printed out nice and clean as the PHB. Cleaner, even.

A new DM needs help from the entire group. If the OP cannot trust the group to help, that is a major problem. If the new DM can trust the group (as he should be able to; after all, they're his friends), then he can trust them to make simple selections on their own.

More books has zero impact on how complicated things are, as when things get going, you're going to have four races, four classes, five feats, and twenty spells, no matter where they come from. The innate complexity of every given element is what matters, not where they come from.

The way it goes is the players make their characters, then take the OP by the hand and explain what their character is and what they can do. This process is necessary no matter what splats are allowed, whether it's PHB-only or considerably broader. Whether it's sitting down and explaining a Cleric and all her spells and abilities or sitting down and explaining a Warlock and all her spells and abilities.

I dont think you're thinking of it from the perspective of someone who has just begun playing. Being presented with ten books spread over the table, even with the comment that "I'm only using this bit from here, this bit from here..." etcetera is a daunting thing and appears more complicated - even if intellectually it's learning the same amount of rules. It also prohibits the DM from swatting up between sessions and

One of the most common comments I hear from non-gamers regarding D&D is amazement at the fact that not only does it take a whole book to write down the rules. It takes dozens of them! A bewildering array of books, most of which you're told you can ignore and just use the bits I'm telling you about is definitely more complicated - x amount of information in one book is simpler than x amount of information in twenty. Another problem is that the player is going to forget something when presenting the DM with his crash course. Then halfway through play, something will come up and the experienced player will suddenly direct the new DM to some previously unread part of one of the books in the pile.

All of it depends on the particular nature of the DM, of course. However learninig how a game works is more than understanding the rules. I think a better course of action would be to run a one-shot scenario with just the core books, then follow the route you suggest of players coming up with options and explaining to the DM how it all works. Once you have some basic understanding of the system, I think your point is completely valid.


The splat versus core debate is a good one, but I do not think it will help the OP at this point.

First time player + First time DM + Group including were-creatures and celestials + splatbooks - any mitigating circumstances that we're unaware of = messy

At the very least.

IMHO YMMV

DivineRight - Good Luck!


Steve Geddes wrote:
Good stuff

Seconded most heartily.


I will point out that the big advantage (besides juggling books) that sticking to the core only has is familiarity. A DM typical is more familiar with the classes, races, etc in the PHB. Now having said that, this is not the typical DM, it is a brand new DM and may not be at all familiar with the PHB and thus that biggest advantage is not present. Though it could be argued that it is a value to have it and so it can be seen as an investment for the DM to stick with the core to get the most familiar with the most common aspects of the game. In which case, toss out the freaky races.


Steve Geddes wrote:
I dont think you're thinking of it from the perspective of someone who has just begun playing. Being presented with ten books spread over the table, even with the comment that "I'm only using this bit from here, this bit from here..." etcetera is a daunting thing and appears more complicated - even if intellectually it's learning the same amount of rules.

Ah, but when it comes time to explain, there aren't ten books spread out across the table. And even if it were core-only, explaining straight out of the book is a bad idea, simply because of all the flipping going on.

Rather, there are four sheets to deal with. A well-organized player will have every piece of mechanical information necessary in adjudicating their character included in their character sheet. You're not opening a book to look at a spell. You are showing the DM the spell card you wrote up. When you explain your feats, you are not showing the DM X many different pages in the PHB or whatever other books. You're showing the DM the feat sheets where all your feats and what they do are laid out in a single location.

The entire point is that, while two books may have gone into making those spell cards, another book provided the class, and a fourth provided whatever feat, that doesn't matter precisely because an organized player doesn't need the books to explain it; it's still just the same number of sheets and cards.

Matt Devney wrote:
First time player + First time DM + Group including were-creatures and celestials + splatbooks - any mitigating circumstances that we're unaware of = messy

...

And you're missing the entire point of K.I.S.S.

Werecreatures are complicated. Therefore, these players (who must be trusted or the entire endeavor could well be futile) avoid them.

Celestials are complicated, therefore they are avoided.

Level adjustment and racial hit die are complicated, therefore they are avoided.

A Druid who makes extensive use of Wild Shape is extremely complicated, therefore they are avoided, despite being core.

A halfling Favored Soul who takes Subduing Strike and knows Lesser Vigor, Bless, Protection from Evil, Detect Magic, Cure Minor Wounds, Create Water, Amanuensis, and Purify Food and Drink is simple. It is not a problem. It does not make the game any messier, despite drawing from material in the PHB, Complete Divine, the Spell Compendium, and the Book of Exalted Deeds.

Once you write out those spell cards and your feat sheet, where they come from ceases to be a factor, and only innate complexity remains. And just because something comes from something other than the PHB absolutely does not make it inherently more complicated, nor does something coming from the PHB make it inherently simpler.


Viletta Vadim wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
I dont think you're thinking of it from the perspective of someone who has just begun playing. Being presented with ten books spread over the table, even with the comment that "I'm only using this bit from here, this bit from here..." etcetera is a daunting thing and appears more complicated - even if intellectually it's learning the same amount of rules.

Ah, but when it comes time to explain, there aren't ten books spread out across the table. And even if it were core-only, explaining straight out of the book is a bad idea, simply because of all the flipping going on.

Rather, there are four sheets to deal with. A well-organized player will have every piece of mechanical information necessary in adjudicating their character included in their character sheet. You're not opening a book to look at a spell. You are showing the DM the spell card you wrote up. When you explain your feats, you are not showing the DM X many different pages in the PHB or whatever other books. You're showing the DM the feat sheets where all your feats and what they do are laid out in a single location.

The entire point is that, while two books may have gone into making those spell cards, another book provided the class, and a fourth provided whatever feat, that doesn't matter precisely because an organized player doesn't need the books to explain it; it's still just the same number of sheets and cards.

I can see your point and it makes perfect sense - but people are not rational. As I said, it would depend on personality and if the DM is willing to run a game without knowing the rules except through what the players have told him then fair enough - you are completely right. Possibly you as a first-time DM would have been fine with "rules adjudication by proxy". I know I wouldnt.

One comment I would make though is that I think you are unusual if you play in a group who all know the rules as well as would be required for your approach to work. It is my experience, particularly if the players are 'trying something new', that even well intentioned players will make an error of interpretation/adjudication when creating their characters and determining how different facets work together.

In my experience, the kinds of people who DM are the kinds of people who like to have a firm grip on the rules. I wouldnt have been comfortable running a game as a newcomer in the manner you suggest (and I believe most new DMs are the same). Even now if a group of players asked me to run a game and said "We've all picked classes/feats/spells from this cool new splatbook you've never seen before. We'll tell you how it works." I'm more likely to say yes than if they'd each picked bits and pieces from half a dozen different books. It may not be logical, but people arent logical and I dont think there's any advantage in assuming they are.


DivineRight wrote:

Alrightie, so here's the story:

For years I've been fascinated with DnD, roleplaying, and its ilk. I own three books for v3.5 (PHB, DMG, and The Book of Vile Darkness), about a year and a half of Dungeon Magazines, and other assorted paraphernalia. <snip>

This is a group of people who besides two of them, I do not know, they are already in the beginning of a homebrew campaign wherein they play themselves as "falling" into that world after being summoned somehow by a demon emperor. The beginning is already planned out, but after that, it's up to me.
The group is currently at level two, and drawing closer to an artifact capable of casting Lightning Storm once per day, are acquaintances with a Silver Dragon, and one character is a werewolf while another is half-celestial.

My recommendation is to get a copy of the 3.5 Monster Manual and then stick to the books you own personally and can study on your own time. Anything from the Complete Handbooks, even if relatively straight-forward, should be kept out for now because you don't have the sources readily available. Only allow new sources in as you gain some comfort with them and then only if you can get them - on extended loan from your players if necessary.

I would also take a step back and ask them how they ended up with a half-celestial and a werewolf if they're playing themselves falling into that world. I'd consider having them "undo" that stuff or have that complication deferred until you're comfortable with tackling it. The werewolf, in particular, can throw a 2nd level campaign out of whack pretty easily.

If they're dead set on playing the PCs as they are, consider running the campaign with side characters. New ones starting at 1st level, so you can learn the system and how to run it, without running the main event campaign characters. Do this for a module or two. Consider it a probationary period - you getting to know them, them getting to know you, etc. I would even suggest having their original DM start off running a short module with YOU as a player so you get a chance to see it from that perspective. Maybe have a round-robin DM mini-campaign - everyone runs for a session or two - kind of like having guest writers doing episodes of a TV series.


Viletta Vadim wrote:
A well-organized player will have ... the spell card you wrote up ... the feat sheets where all your feats and what they do are laid out in a single location

I'm an organized person, but I hate spell cards and feat sheets and garbage like that. Why should I go to the trouble, since it's all in one book? I don't use item cards or any of that stuff. To me it's a waste of time and effort.

The only people who need to go to that much trouble are splat-bookers. Eliminate the splats and you eliminate the need for that much trouble.

I'm a very organized Player. I know where in the PHB all of my relevant info is, and when I'm in a situation where the DM might need to make a judgement call I have the necessary page book-marked. Otherwise, it's just so much extra trash I have to carry around.

As for flipping pages, what's the difference between flipping through the pages of a book and flipping through a stack of cards? I've seen Players more disheveled and disorganized trying to keep their stacks of cards straight and in the right order than I am with my PHB. Mine is protected by a hard cover and bound together and if I drop it everything remains in the right order so I can find it quickly.

You obviously have a different play style than several other of us posters. That's fine, please do whatever works for you. However, please refrain from making generalizations, value-judgements and insinuations about the level (or lack, as you suggest) of organization we may possess. Just because we don't adhere to your way of doing things doesn't make us "bad" or disorganized ... just different.

FWIW,

Rez


Oh my god, I completely forgot about this thread. ^^; I'm sorry guys.
Alright, so let me try to summarize these last 40+ posts as well I can and reply. Sorry D8 I'm not really used to being in an environment where people write as much as you guys do, so I can't respond individually.
It's really awesome though. ;)

They're taking advantage of you: Yep, I'm actually well aware of this fact. I knew the moment he asked me actually since beforehand I was lamenting the lack of having a group (hint hint) and he replied "Well, I'm sure you'll find a group in college". Had he initially wanted to let me join, he wouldn't have slid around the question. It was clearly an afterthought.

They're overpowered: Hoo yeah, this is another thing I'm aware of. They have their reasons for those kinds of characters, which I'll get into later. But my plan at this point is reincarnation spells.

You need to have the books: With this one I'm working on it. I don't know if I can still get the MM in time since 4th edition has replaced all of them at my local Barnes and Nobel, but I do have a different friend who owns it and never uses it, and I'm also planning on meeting with my co-worker to look over his books.

Start a New Campaign/Start as a Player: This is tricky. I feel at this point I'm still not a part of the group, seeing how I've only met two of the members. And as such I feel I'm not in the position to make demands (kinda funny for the DM huh?). Plus, I think there's some politics behind this one that I'm not aware of.

Make Sure You Know the Rules: I'm a little afraid of going too gung-ho here. From what I know, this is a more casual group and me trying to micromanage their spell components will not be welcome. Though I will admit that I need to brush up on combat. However, I'm more worried about my confidence. Even if I can recite all of a bull rush's special circumstances backwards, if I can't act out the story well, I'm sunk. And conversely, if I can just weave the words, technicalities of combat can be fudged.

I'm sure I missed something here, but I'll be checking back more often now, so just remind me.

Alright, now here's my synopsis of the plot from what I remember.
The players are all basically playing themselves (I gagged when I heard this) and were summoned into the fantasy world by an evil demon who mused: "Well, since our understanding of Magic has grown fantastically over time, mages from the future must be AMAZINGLY powerful!" And so our heroes magically fell through spacial rifts, but time being as it is, they landed not where was intended and also a few days apart from each other. This is where the first DM (he landed three days ahead) met and befriended a Silver Dragon and got stuff ready for the others (their starting equipment). He explained the different races though the gradual weakening of magic and... something I forgot, over the years, and that the people were actually descendants of either celestials of werewolves and arriving in the past(?) caused those traits to re-emerge. (Another gag) After journeying to a nearby Dwarf Mountain City-thing, they found it was under siege from the selfsame Demon Lord who summoned them. They ended up fighting him, and lost of course, but (to add a sense of direction and enmity or something) he didn't kill them since "they were too pathetic to kill". And then somehow they end up going beneath the city in order to acquire a mystical artifact in order to pay... a ransom of some sort I think. It turns out that this artifact is indeed one piece out of five (or six) of the mythic hammer used to originally forge the Dwarven Race! Also it's intelligent.

And there's where I come in. Yay.

Up until now I was planning on using part one of the Age of Worms Adventure Path, the Whispering Carn, as a map mostly for the traps and obviously upgrading the monsters. But the more I think about it (and especially after writing that) I'm realizing how crappy this whole arc sounds. I still really want to play, and I think I can make it work, but it's going to take some work.


Alright, a couple things for you DivineRight.

First, about the monster issue, if you can't get your hands on a 3.5 monster manual, a Pathfinder Bestiary should serve you pretty well, the monsters in general are a bit tougher for their CR (Shouldn't be a big problem considering the power level of the campaign) and some things will require you to get online and use the PRD to make sure they make sense, but it should serve you alright as a second option that might be more easy to acquisition.

Second, is a bit of advice concerning the freaky storyline they've cooked up for you.

Some of the most fun campaigns are the ones that seem the most stupid. Don't try to look at it as "My first campaign as Dungeon Master" bla bla formal bs. Just sit down to have fun, mock them over their character flaws (traits that are going to be evident in both PC's and their real world inspirations) torment them with villains (or as an interesting twist, maybe give them the opportunity to let their darksides out and become the villains)

In short, just have fun and play around with it. The world is your playground, and they're playing in it. Don't be afraid to get into their heads and make them question everything they hold dear.


Viletta Vadim wrote:
Matt Devney wrote:
First time player + First time DM + Group including were-creatures and celestials + splatbooks - any mitigating circumstances that we're unaware of = messy

...

And you're missing the entire point of K.I.S.S.

No, you're wrong. I know the point of KISS. But I wasn't discussing it. Read the first line of my post again. With respect, I think you missed the point.

All the rest of your response to my post is completely true, yet still not helping the OP at this point.

I'll leave it there, as I don't want to distract the OP or other posters from actually helping.


Hey Divine Right. Let us know what happens when you sit down with the new group to discuss options. Looks like you are going to make this campaign yours which is good, don't worry about clunky descriptions or slow rule adjudication in game, these things happen to the best DM's. My last piece of advice is to not let the players know when you make a story related mistake. If you forget something in the story you can either work around it or leave it out, having not read an adventure (or your homebrew notes) only you know if you have made these type of mistakes.

I would give a big thumbs up to running the Age of Worms AP in its entirety (I am starting the Whispering Cairn myself this Friday). It will give you a good feel for pacing a story, building a metaplot and also allow you to come up with some material on your own as the transitions from story to story are not always perfectly smooth.

I know that there are group locators on the boards as well as on the WoTC boards if this new group does not work out. It really is amazing how many gaming groups and players are out there. When a person decides to stop playing I can pick up two more players with ease :-)


Well I doubt that I could actually get the Age of Worms going very well since I only have about three parts of the entire AP and at the moment lack much disposable income.
Though depending on how fast/slow it goes I could always get the PDFs.

Oh! But I remembered just what it was that I missed.

Try to get some experience beforehand: This I'm actually hoping to be able to do, I've seen a lot of you recommend either finding another real life group, or try some play by post. I'm pretty much open to either, with a slight preference to the PBP. Though, I'm still pretty new to the forums here, and I'm not real sure of the proper etiquette to do so.
I think I have a v3.5 character saved online somewhere though from a similar attempt a while back. So the creation shouldn't be an issue.


With a sidelong glance to the first mate, Halga takes a quick swig on the flask. He hands the flask back and gives Amar a bearish grin.

"Not sure how ah missed all that. Well, now ya've got help wit the orders."

Halga checks his own armor and gear and looks to Cyrus. He extends his hand out to Cyrus. "Good ta have ya. I'm called Halga. This is Amar."


Halga Biir wrote:

With a sidelong glance to the first mate, Halga takes a quick swig on the flask. He hands the flask back and gives Amar a bearish grin.

"Not sure how ah missed all that. Well, now ya've got help wit the orders."

Halga checks his own armor and gear and looks to Cyrus. He extends his hand out to Cyrus. "Good ta have ya. I'm called Halga. This is Amar."

I don't get it... what am I missing here? What does this have to do with a new DM/player?

How odd - are the boards going fubar a bit?

Liberty's Edge

Matt Devney wrote:

I don't get it... what am I missing here? What does this have to do with a new DM/player?

How odd - are the boards going fubar a bit?

Probably a mis-post. Been seeing them a lot more often lately; probably a board-related issue.


Sounds like the OP has a pretty good handle on things actually. My only advise at this point is to take the current campaign as it is... its a Monty campaign, Hall that is, not Cook... maybe Python. Anyway the current setup sounds like a classic goomba we get everything we want sort of deal. Good for a beer and pretzels crowd but don't expect anything to deep or meaniful here. But as I mentioned the OP seems to understand that. On the plus side he has made contact with a gang of gamers however shallow and gets to play, heck even GM so thats all to the good. Go with it as long as it lasts, these things normally burn out cause eventually either the toys run out or the characters become so muddled in their super-mega-uberness that its not worth carrying on. At that point he can try introducing a real campaign with real challenges and rewards but by then he'll have a few months of getting to know these people and getting a handle on face to face gaming and D&D in general.


Matt Devney wrote:


I don't get it... what am I missing here? What does this have to do with a new DM/player?

How odd - are the boards going fubar a bit?

What's to get? It's a mis-post. It has nothing to do with the conversation.


Jeremy Epp wrote:
Good for a beer and pretzels crowd but don't expect anything to deep or meaniful here.

Oh so true. I've asked my friend and he's even admitted that his group much prefers the hack-and-slash type of game. Which is really a shame since some of my favorite adventures were "Diplomacy" or the Viktor Saint-Demian arc.

But I'll say, that mis-post has sparked my interest. Is it from some PBP? If so, how do I go about joining one?


DivineRight wrote:
Jeremy Epp wrote:
Good for a beer and pretzels crowd but don't expect anything to deep or meaniful here.

Oh so true. I've asked my friend and he's even admitted that his group much prefers the hack-and-slash type of game. Which is really a shame since some of my favorite adventures were "Diplomacy" or the Viktor Saint-Demian arc.

But I'll say, that mis-post has sparked my interest. Is it from some PBP? If so, how do I go about joining one?

Here and here.


DivineRight wrote:
Jeremy Epp wrote:
Good for a beer and pretzels crowd but don't expect anything to deep or meaniful here.

Oh so true. I've asked my friend and he's even admitted that his group much prefers the hack-and-slash type of game. Which is really a shame since some of my favorite adventures were "Diplomacy" or the Viktor Saint-Demian arc.

But I'll say, that mis-post has sparked my interest. Is it from some PBP? If so, how do I go about joining one?

Ok, you can't leave us hanging. You have to post how your first time as DM went. (If its happened yet.)

(This is a bump in disguise, in case you couldn't tell.) ;)

MD


Ahaha, sorry about that. No one had replied in a while so I was assuming that this thread was dead.

But sadly no, I have not been able to DM yet. Organizing schedules is a real pain when you have no contact information. Also nothing could happen over Thanksgiving weekend.

HOWEVER, I ambushed the former DM at work yesterday after asking my boss about a scheduling error and he says that he thinks his previous campaign is toast and suggested I make a new one!

So now, here's what I have to work with. They want to start at a slightly higher level (5-ish) and the party members I know of having, played... A druid, a Fighter, and a Dragon Shaman in previous games. I don't know if they'll do that again, but it gives me something to work off of. Also, he mentioned that they might want to try something with more puzzles.

I was ecstatic about that part.

So, at the moment I'm pondering over the possibility of playing the first part of the Viktor Saint-Demian arc, "Chimes at Midnight" (Dungeon 133) But I also think it would be neat to make my own module.

So, Any questions, comments, or concerns?

Sovereign Court

A clean slate is the best way to start. I personally have never started players out at 1st level, they're far too fragile, so starting characters out at 3rd or even 5th isn't all that strange to me. Be aware that it does mean more work for you, wizards, druids, and clerics will have 3rd level spells. Adventures that are designed for that level will also have more spells for you to familiarize yourself with. However I've always found that this level is my favorite to DM and to play at.

Might I also advise only allowing the PCs to use books you own. There's no reason to start a campaign, run a couple adventures to get a feel for DMing, and then as you begin to feel more comfortable then open the game up to more books and consider running a lager story like a campaign.


DivineRight wrote:
They want to start at a slightly higher level (5-ish) ... Any questions, comments, or concerns?

AND

Guy Humual wrote:
A clean slate is the best way to start. I personally have never started players out at 1st level, they're far too fragile, so starting characters out at 3rd ...

I'd suggest starting at 1st level, not for the benefit of the Players or for the sake of Character Development, but rather for your own experience as a DM.

I start every campaign at this level and have no problems with survivability. If you use published adventures you'll have no problems with balance.

Starting at 1st level will give you an easy entree into the game and mechanics without having to dive right into 3rd level spells and greater complexity. You can start out with CR 1/2, 1 & 2 monsters and get a feel for things. I think you will find this beneficial.

However ...

... there's no reason you can't advance the pace of things for Players who want to get ahead faster. My advice is to start the campaign at 1st level and award Triple XP until the PCs are 3rd level, then Double XP until they are 5th. This will allow you to get your feet wet, experience the mechanics and gain some in-play-familiarity with the key spells, tactics, mechanics and so forth that experienced Players take for granted. At the same time, it hurries the PCs on up towards the levels that are of greatest interest to the Players.

Such a solution strikes a balance between your need for simplicity and experience vs. their desire for a higher-level game. Since they drafted you into the role of DM, I think they can understand and make this accommodation which should actually benefit them by improving the overall game and thus their play-experience.

Otherwise, I'd like to second most of Guy's comments.

FWIW,

Rez

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