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evenworse username
Aug 4, 2006

TRICHER
POUR
GAGNER


RagnarokAngel posted:

It's different to play a smooth guy and someone who's words can stop wars. The latter better be justified.

Ok, I'll grant you that if a player said 'I use my Charisma (or whatever) to convince Churchill to end the war with Nazi Germany', I'd want to know how they would possibly go about that before allowing a roll. On the other hand, if the request was to use Charisma (or whatever) to convince a specific group of Allied soldiers and a specific group of Nazis to stop fighting each other in the immediate situation, I'd probably allow the roll. It would be a really goddamn hard roll, so having a clever argument to boost their chances would be beneficial, but even if they didn't have one I'd let them roll the bones.

I kind of get the sense you're thinking of a specific situation or situations, though.

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OutOfPrint
Apr 9, 2009


Male Man posted:

I've been brow-beating my players for weeks to write backgrounds for my upcoming campaign. So far two of the players have given me one sentence concepts and the other three haven't come up with anything. It doesn't exactly give me high hopes.

Welcome to my world.

I've found asking for specific things in my group's characters' backstories works a hell of a lot better than just asking for a history: "What did your character do before adventuring?" "Why does your character want to go on adventures/investigate the murders around town/whatever your game is about?" and "How did your character meet Bob's character?" generally work well. It's also a good way to make sure people make characters that fit the game, as long as you properly tailor your questions.

Annakie
Apr 20, 2005

"It's pretty bad, isn't it? I know it's pretty bad. Ever since I can remember..."


For any DMs out there running Scales of War, I've found The Scales of War DM's Wiki to be an invaluable resource. It does a great job helping connect the modules, giving suggestions of things to change and also things to mention / do early on to make the stories flow together in later levels. Also it's really helped me "get" the ongoing story without giving too much away, and is great for quickly looking things up. I've been using it like nuts the last few weeks.

Apparently there are large errors in continuity (like it just tells you that you players picked up a key in a previous module that that module didn't mention at all) that the wiki helps you avoid.

Tomorrow night we start Siege of Bordin's Watch. I just printed out 2.5 pages of notes of things to remember to squeeze into the story before the end of night. I'm excited, though. It should be a lot of fun!

Bob Smith
Jan 5, 2006
Well Then, What Shall We Start With?

I've been thinking about how to have a plot in my campaign which the players will be a part of, but at the same time avoiding railroading or "go here do this to see plot" missions.

The result is a flowchart covering what I think are the most likely general responses to each session's conflicts and challenges (like "beat boss" or "fail to beat boss," or "agree with villain" and "disagree with villain.") and how they will lead through the campaign's events. I want to get across a sense that if the players fail, it could be as much through their own inaction and apathy as any unstoppable force the enemy present - the old "evil wins through good's inaction" trope.

I figure if I explain that the campaign world will move without the players' action right at the start, then that's fair warning for when things go off without them, and so on. I know this is related to my earlier post about the "doomsday clock" idea, but I was wondering if secretly using a flowchart of plot points with branching paths which ultimately leads to one of three "endings" (win, lose, or join the villain) is still too restrictive. The flowchart only contains one-sentence outlines of what should happen next based on prior decisions, and I hope it will lessen the amount of ad-libbing I need to do if they kill an important NPC or completely miss a vital clue.

ItalicSquirrels
Feb 15, 2007

What?

Bob Smith posted:

<snip>
I hope it will lessen the amount of ad-libbing I need to do if they kill an important NPC or completely miss a vital clue.

As long as you use it for that reason, you should be okay. If you refuse to deviate from it, you're back to square one again.

Bob Smith
Jan 5, 2006
Well Then, What Shall We Start With?

ItalicSquirrels posted:

As long as you use it for that reason, you should be okay. If you refuse to deviate from it, you're back to square one again.

That's the plan. It's really not specific, and if they come up with a better idea I'll go with it.

However, I know the group and I know they have a tendency to completely miss plot hooks and NPCs while obsessing over minutiae of no importance.

It's also mostly to keep my ideas in order so I don't end up getting confused about where they've been and who they've met.

Easy Diff
Jan 2, 2005

What the shock am I reading?!

@easydiff


Bob Smith posted:

I've been thinking about how to have a plot in my campaign which the players will be a part of, but at the same time avoiding railroading or "go here do this to see plot" missions.
One of the more ambitious ideas I heard (and tried to implement myself) was to enlist 5-7 nerdy friends who are not in your player's party or their roommates or something in an email list. Call them up, tell them, "Hey, you're the evil necromancer. You're the leader of the orc war tribe. You're the reclusive elven king. You're Cinderbottom the Red Dragon." and each week have them send you their action. I had a list somewhere of stuff I had my guys (Dark Sun Sorcerer-kings, in my case) do or have available, stuff like "March on the elven lands," "Send gift to rival chieftan," "Throw party to get subjects to love me." stuff like that.

Then you have every week (or two weeks) a list of things happening in your world to give to the players, and after game (in which they, say, defended the elves from the orcs) you can email involved players and get their reactions.

Bob Smith
Jan 5, 2006
Well Then, What Shall We Start With?

tendrilsfor20 posted:

One of the more ambitious ideas I heard (and tried to implement myself) was to enlist 5-7 nerdy friends who are not in your player's party or their roommates or something in an email list. Call them up, tell them, "Hey, you're the evil necromancer. You're the leader of the orc war tribe. You're the reclusive elven king. You're Cinderbottom the Red Dragon." and each week have them send you their action. I had a list somewhere of stuff I had my guys (Dark Sun Sorcerer-kings, in my case) do or have available, stuff like "March on the elven lands," "Send gift to rival chieftan," "Throw party to get subjects to love me." stuff like that.

Then you have every week (or two weeks) a list of things happening in your world to give to the players, and after game (in which they, say, defended the elves from the orcs) you can email involved players and get their reactions.

That's awesome - I go to a wargaming and boardgaming club that's completely discrete from my roleplaying circle, and what I may do is ask the guys there for their opinions on how the villain should react to the party's actions.

Easy Diff
Jan 2, 2005

What the shock am I reading?!

@easydiff


Bob Smith posted:

That's awesome - I go to a wargaming and boardgaming club that's completely discrete from my roleplaying circle, and what I may do is ask the guys there for their opinions on how the villain should react to the party's actions.
It was actually super-awesome when the party took out a corrupt official, and both the assassin's guild leader and a nearby city's king both tried to move in on the underworld action, unbeknownst to each other, causing an impromptu gang war that the PC's caused.

Yarrbossa
Mar 18, 2008


Alright, this is my first time DM'ing D&D 3.5 and I could use some advice one how to handle some players. In particular, my fiance is a rogue that enjoys stealing from anything and anyone and generally isn't deterred by guards. We also have a cleric who spends his free time treating people with his heal skill, and a bard who spends his free time performing for cash.

I'm having trouble figuring out better ways to handle the rogue and bard and cleric so that it doesn't turn into "OK, roll for perform *check chart* you earn such and such gold", or the rogue saying "I'm going to pickpocket people for the week, how much do I make?" with the expectation that she'll make a ton of money. Her sleight of hand, open lock, hide, and move silently are maxed out so when she doesn't, she doesn't think I'm being fair. Same thing goes for the cleric and his treating people. His heal check is maxed out so he can heal most commoners without even trying.

How do you guys deal with players like this? I think it's great they've got things they are doing other than hack n' slash, but I'd like to spice it up for them...make it better than just rolling for money.

One thing I did before, was explicitly set up the rogue and bard for an opportunity to steal a valuable statue from a wealthy guy, having them work through the situation, which ended with them fighting the guard the rich guy had posted in the room next door.

Should I make up a bunch of thief scenario's that I can just pop in whenever she wants, and how should I handle whenever she wants to pickpocket people in the street? Do you have any suggestions for scenarios? How do you make an eventful doctor scenario that offers room for errors based on his decisions? What can I do to spice up the bard's performances?

Also, a rule clarification. I've read that some touch attacks can apply on up to several people if touched within that round such as teleport. Does this apply to a clerics healing spells as well? If so, how many people can he touch heal in a round. 2? 3? How can I tell when you can touch multiple people in a round by looking in the players handbook?

Justice Grieves
Feb 26, 2007
If I must die, I shall welcome Death as an old friend, and wrap mine arms about it.

When they get comfortable in the city, get them out of the city. Small tent villages, closeknit halfling wagon trains, the wilderness...


Come down harder on your fiancee because the natural instinct is to be overly kind to our dates. It'll even out.

50 pounds of bread
Sep 27, 2006



tendrilsfor20 posted:

I remember one game (as a player), where we were breaking up a cult resurrecting their dark lord. We busted in on them as they were pulling the ancient evil sarcophagus out of its tomb with a rope and pulley. The elf said, "I want to shoot the rope and have the coffin crash back into its pit." DM said, 'Sure, gimme a roll.' Sure enough, we made the cultists stop their ritual and sidestepped a big fight. The DM later was like, "Well, that could've been a cool fight, but you guys handled it fine, soooo..."

And we still talk about it to this day as "the day an elf cut a rope with an arrow."


This reminds me of a pirate 3.5 campaign I played one time, where there was a huge ship approaching us, so I turned into a sea lion, swam over to the boat and woodshaped a giant hole in the hull, capsizing the ship, and skipping us over the gigantic sea battle our DM had planned.

plarp
Apr 12, 2006


Yarrbossa posted:

Should I make up a bunch of thief scenario's that I can just pop in whenever she wants, and how should I handle whenever she wants to pickpocket people in the street? Do you have any suggestions for scenarios? How do you make an eventful doctor scenario that offers room for errors based on his decisions? What can I do to spice up the bard's performances?

If this is the sort of game you and your players want to play, go for it. Maybe the thief's exploits aggravate the local guild, and she can either work for them or they'll hound her and her buddies out of town. Maybe the bard's skills get recognized and he is invited to perform for the local lords, where the party becomes involved in courtly intrigues. Perhaps there's an unnatural plague that even the cleric's healing can't cure, and the party has to discover and destroy whatever is causing it. Their weekly perform checks can easily become adventure hooks. Of course if they avoid the adventures to keep rolling dice and incrementing their funds, maybe D&D isn't the right game to be playing.

Arrrthritis
May 31, 2007


Everyone has a plan 'til they get punched in the mouth.


I'm starting up a Dark Heresy game with some online buds soon. Odds are it may be a light-hearted and death-filled journey in learning the system. I do, however, have a couple questions concerning online (live) tabletop.

What are some good tools i can use for grid based combat? I don't want to have to have MSPaint out for most battles and send it to them after each turn. Is there a good tool we can each use to show player actions in?

What are some good xenos to throw at them? I'm thinking of starting them in a space hulk type situation and they will all die miserably, to get familiar with combat and the system. It didn't look like the core book had anything on tyranids, orks, or even eldar. What should I do about this? Is there a book that does contain info on them?

What's a good world to have them explore and purge? I'm thinking between a couple of things

-A hive world that is slowly being corrupted by the forces of chaos

-An agri world with a space station in orbit, with outposts and villages disappearing one by one ((be it via Xeno or heretic))

-A fuedal society built upon a long forgotten tomb world, with a Ctan's influence growing by the day.

But i'm sure there's better options out there. Would you recommend me using any of these? Do you have an idea for a world I could use? Would this be too challenging?

Thanks for any advice.

Fenarisk
Oct 26, 2005



I'm having some trouble convincing my players to try out a new system.

There's 4 regular players, and for all of them they started their first pen and paper games a little over a year ago with me. We've played D&D 4e for the majority of that, with maybe three sessions of savage worlds tossed in.

One of the players is interested in Shadowrun, and I really am too, but the other 3 are iffy on the system and learning new rules, and are already kind of brushing it off before we even start to play it. In addition, I explained the first night would really just be character creation, learning the basic rules, and maybe doing a quick intro run just so everyone learns the mechanics and style, but to them that's terrible and "wastes a whole night we could be playing". They've decided they don't like the game and are just waiting to go back to 4e after one night of Shadowrun, but I really think the group could like the system if they actually learn it and go into it with an open mind.

Any suggestions on getting at least a slight spark of interest going so it doesn't fail outright due to preconceived attitudes? I know the ideal option is to find a different group to play Shadowrun with but that's not an option around where I live at my age.

RagnarokAngel
Oct 5, 2006

D:


I can tell you now if people go into a system being adamant about it sucking you're going to have a tough time convincing them otherwise. Confirmation bias will make them roll their eyes, groan, or point out every time something they don't like happens. Ask anyone converting 3.5 diehards to 4e.

You can possibly give an incentive. If they indulge you in your shadowrun you'll run something they want after that. If it's 4e again so be it. If its something else you get to try something new.

Ulta
Oct 3, 2006

Snail on my head ready to go.

quote:

Dark Heresy
Maptools is a very good application for this.

I can sympathize with trying to get players to try something new. It's like pulling teeth around here to get people to play something other than 4th or some WoD thing. I think a lot of them were burned when someone tried to run Earthdawn. Christ, that system is bad (the setting is ok though) Has anyone found a successful strategy to introduce people to different systems? I think sm

h_double
Jul 27, 2001


Fenarisk posted:

One of the players is interested in Shadowrun, and I really am too, but the other 3 are iffy on the system and learning new rules, and are already kind of brushing it off before we even start to play it. In addition, I explained the first night would really just be character creation, learning the basic rules, and maybe doing a quick intro run just so everyone learns the mechanics and style, but to them that's terrible and "wastes a whole night we could be playing". They've decided they don't like the game and are just waiting to go back to 4e after one night of Shadowrun, but I really think the group could like the system if they actually learn it and go into it with an open mind.

Any suggestions on getting at least a slight spark of interest going so it doesn't fail outright due to preconceived attitudes? I know the ideal option is to find a different group to play Shadowrun with but that's not an option around where I live at my age.

How about just planning on a single session one-off with pregenerated characters? That way all they have to do is show up, you give them a 10 minute mini-tutorial on mechanics and you're off and playing.

Make a few more characters than there are players, so there's a good chance everybody will be able to play something they like. Make them pretty bold/cool archetypes -- street samurai or troll with a gun type stuff -- that show off the setting without getting too bogged down in complexity (e.g. go light on magic and hacking).

ItalicSquirrels
Feb 15, 2007

What?

h_double posted:

(e.g. go light on magic and hacking).

Do what my friends and I did for the entirety of 3rd Ed. None of us wanted to bother learning/playing with the Decker (SR's hacking) rules, so we invented "Decker In A Can"! Pop the top, hook up the wires, and it follow its preprogrammed directives. Find this file, defeat that IC, unlock this door, etc. Worked great, cut two hours of unnecessary gameplay out of every session.

h_double
Jul 27, 2001


ItalicSquirrels posted:

Do what my friends and I did for the entirety of 3rd Ed. None of us wanted to bother learning/playing with the Decker (SR's hacking) rules, so we invented "Decker In A Can"! Pop the top, hook up the wires, and it follow its preprogrammed directives. Find this file, defeat that IC, unlock this door, etc. Worked great, cut two hours of unnecessary gameplay out of every session.


Actually in 4E Shadowrun, Deckers are now Hackers, and they've done away with the whole "jack into the net for a 90 minute solo quest while the rest of the group does nothing" aspect. The net is now wireless and omnipresent, and virtual objects appear overlaid on the real world if you've got the proper implants (in other words, it's like what you can do right now in real life with a smartphone and augmented reality software, only more so).

The net result is that hackers now play almost like spellcasters, using their abilities to unlock doors or reprogram security systems in realtime, as part of the main flow of the adventure.

Even so, the hacking rules are an added level of complexity that I'm not sure would work well in an intro game (especially if the GM is new to running the system too). Maybe you could have hacker or mage NPCs and hand-wave the fiddly bits, but let the players jump in and focus on doing cool exciting stuff without having to learn a lot of details first.

Super Waffle
Sep 25, 2007

I'm a hermaphrodite and my parents (40K nerds) named me Slaanesh, THANKS MOM

One of the players in my 4th edition game wants to play a different class (Swordmage), so I gave him the option of either retiring his ranger, or killing his ranger off in a dramatic way and having him reborn as a Revenant (Swordmage). He chose the later option, but now I'm having trouble finding a way to bring him back. If it helps, they're about 1/4 through Thunderspire Mountain (finished Chamber of Eyes, coming up on Horned Hold).

The upcoming fight with Murkelmor presents the opportunity to sacrifice himself in a dramatic and cinematic fashion (maybe charging him off the edge of the keep and plummeting into the chasm, open to ideas). My players are pretty hack-n-slash, so this character doesn't have any back story, history, or defined personality to work with, so this is a great opportunity to get him into the role playing side of things. How should I re-introduce him into the party?

Countblanc
Apr 20, 2005

Help a hero out!

Whatever you decide, make sure it happens fast. If you kill off the ranger at the end of a session, don't take longer than 30-40 minutes for the sword mage to join them at the next session.

RagnarokAngel
Oct 5, 2006

D:


Countblanc posted:

Whatever you decide, make sure it happens fast. If you kill off the ranger at the end of a session, don't take longer than 30-40 minutes for the sword mage to join them at the next session.

Yeah it may seem undramatic to have him come back so quickly but this isn't traditional narrative storytelling and keeping him out of the fun sucks.
Maybe at the next encounter he appears after a round or two and slices through some enemies all bad rear end and you can have a cliche "we thought you were dead!" and the reveal.
"I am."

Bobulus
Jan 28, 2007



What is TG's opinion on introducing multimedia into your games? All my games are via skype and maptools, so we've already got the visual stuff taken care of, but I'm very tempted to rip up Skype to forward my computer sounds so that I can add ambient music / background sounds / whatever to games.

I'm also trying very hard not to think about playing this sound every time players find a secret passage.

RagnarokAngel
Oct 5, 2006

D:


Bobulus posted:

What is TG's opinion on introducing multimedia into your games? All my games are via skype and maptools, so we've already got the visual stuff taken care of, but I'm very tempted to rip up Skype to forward my computer sounds so that I can add ambient music / background sounds / whatever to games.

I'm also trying very hard not to think about playing this sound every time players find a secret passage.

it adds a lot but I reccomend more subtle music. Something without words is a big leap. If you use something with lyrics it can be distracting and take people's mind off the action, you want to compliment it not ruin it.

Bobulus
Jan 28, 2007



Oh, definitely. I once played in a (poorly designed but interesting) WoD game based on the game 'Thief' and the GM used the background game music to heighten the drama pretty well.

I imagine sound effects would get old pretty quickly, huh?

ItalicSquirrels
Feb 15, 2007

What?

Bobulus posted:

I imagine sound effects would get old pretty quickly, huh?

Well, that depends on how you use them. If you're narrating the game saying, "There are no lights on. As you sneak through the house, you try every lightswitch, but none of them work. You can barely make out the shapes of furniture two feet from you, never mind across the room."
<creeeeeeak> <thump> <thump> <thump> <thump>
"Are you sure you're alone?"

That would be kinda cool. If you're just saying, "Your blades clash." <ca-shing> "They clash again." <ca-shing> "And again." <ca-shing> "But one slash makes it through!" <ca-shing>

Yeah, that would get old pretty damned quick.

Whybird
Aug 2, 2009


Bobulus posted:

What is TG's opinion on introducing multimedia into your games? All my games are via skype and maptools, so we've already got the visual stuff taken care of, but I'm very tempted to rip up Skype to forward my computer sounds so that I can add ambient music / background sounds / whatever to games.

Ambient music adds a lot to a game; I often have some mood-appropriate music playing softly in the back.

Also, having props to hand out is great; if you're playing over Skype, then you can't physically give the players handwritten letters or maps or things (which is fantastic fun if, say, they're trying to navigate a dungeon with only a kobold's scrawled map to tell them where the traps are), but sending scanned in images would work just as well.

I agree with ItalicSquirrels about not overdoing it though.

areyoucontagious
Jun 13, 2007

Hell is other people.


I thought about posting a separate thread, but I figured it would be better to ask here first: What's a good way to run a play-by-post game here on SA? Are there any strategies that more experienced DM's have to prevent a game from dying, or maybe some tips from players on a good way to keep the game's pace consistent? I know that playing by post is slow going, and there are ideas and DM tactics that may work for tabletop games but will fail miserably in a PbP game. For example, I'm currently running a game right now, and I've got players that haven't posted in 5 days. I'm not about to let the game die waiting for them, so I've just NPC'd them, but is that the best way to do things?

ItalicSquirrels
Feb 15, 2007

What?

I think part of it is the time it takes to do a normal session's worth of stuff in PbP. Even if everybody posts once a day, it can take months to go through the equivalent of four hours of tabletop play. Within that time, people's lives change. I know that in about a week and a half, I'm taking a written exam for the police department. If I pass, I've got a countdown until I'm either living in a barracks (which would mean no posting period) or going through the academy while commuting (which would mean little posting). In either situation, I'd love to be posting normally but the job would prevent it.

Another part is keeping people's interest. Some of us are more ADD than others. If the pace slows down, you can lose a person or two. Alternately, they might simply transfer their enthusiasm to their newest game. I've been guilty of this once or twice, I'll admit.

Quite frankly, it seems like PbP is the worst way to run a game short of play-by-(e)mail. There's no realy chance for side chatter, few of the players really connect, and there's no set time that people put aside and look forward to during the week. I've been playing the same D&D campaign face-to-face for three and a half years now without losing interest, but I've probably gone through two dozen PbP games that didn't finish during that same time period.

So the way you've done things right now certainly isn't bad, but I don't know if it's the best. I'm not certain there is a best that's actually good and not just 'not horrible'. I know Gaist has kept Blackbird running through sheer force of will in certain places, but that seems to be just about the only game (correct me if I'm wrong, please). The 'best' thing to do seems to be to talk to your players, find out why they're not posting as much as before, and try to fix the game a little. They might have expected a more action-packed game (which happened to me, once), they might be expecting a different update schedule (also happened), or they might just be going through a patch where posting on the forums is taking a backseat to something else. That kind of thing can't really be stopped, because when you tell someone that they have to choose between writing a few paragraphs for some random strangers or going on a date with a member of the gender of their choice, you're probably not going to be the first choice.

Finally, your game might just be dying. It happens to a great many games here. Interests wane on both sides of the GM screen, the writing drops off, someone gets stuck in a dead-end somewhere along the way, all sorts of thing. Take it in stride.

tl, dr: You're not necessarily doing anything wrong. Slowdowns happen to most every game. Talk to your players, find out what's going on, what can be fixed (if anything), and be prepared that the game might just be dying.

Kerison
Apr 9, 2004

by angerbot


Don't worry boy, games die all the time, just like that. Why, you could wake up to find your game dead tomorrow!

Leperflesh
May 17, 2007


Smellrose

Well I think you should do what I did.

-Picking players as well as characters. By that I mean, it's not enough for someone to have a great character concept; you need to evaluate them as a poster as well. You also need to put a lot of attention into the party whole - again, not character synergy, but player synergy. You want people who are communicative, thoughtful, and plainly willing to compromise for the sake of a good game. Key issues to watch for are lone-wolf characters, players who are too involved in too many other things, and players who just drop in and dump a character on the thread without being involved in the overall conversation. Drive-by submissions you might say.

-Involve the players in the world creation. You may have a brilliant idea for your game but there's no way to really communicate that in advance to players. They don't know your posting style or how the game will go and if it's not quite what they had expected, they can get frustrated and wander off. The cure to that is to run some pre-game exercises while everyone is still excited and get them to start working with each other making decisions about the game (setting, plot, etc.) right away. It takes some of the load off of you as a GM as well, because it means you're not just off on your own, cooking things up and hoping that everyone likes what you did.

-Keep the party small. I can't stress this enough. A big party means most of the time, a player can't expect to be in the spotlight, their voice is smaller, and they feel like the game needs them less. It also creates much more work for you. Every update takes longer, every encounter takes longer, and the odds that someone is a misfit (player or character) rise with every additional player. Personally I think 5 is an absolute maximum and 4 is probably better. I've seen (and been in) lots of games that started with 6 or more players and in most cases I've come to regard that as having been a mistake.

-Your plans for the game should be modest. Plan for what will happen in the first adventure. That's going to take (seriously) a year. There is absolutely no reason to plan beyond that, because by the time a year goes by, too much will have changed - players come and go, the characters evolve, your life changes, and of course if you're playing a current game, tons of supplements and such come out that will give your players loads of cool new ideas that they'll want to run with.

-This is a non-verbal medium. It's mostly non-visual as well, although you can do a lot with a well-placed picture. That means you must be an expert in the written form. If you write well, you'll keep people interested. If your writing is poor (in any respect - grammar, creativity, clarity, length) you'll lose people. They won't even know why, necessarily... but I've seen plenty of PbP games go to poo poo because the GM could not effectively communicate the setting, NPCs, and plot to the players in an interesting way. When in doubt, write more. I personally err on the side of excessive content and massive posts, but I think that's better than small, brief updates that maybe move the game along but don't contain much to draw or maintain interest.

-Remember that the game is not about you, it's about your players. Pander to them. The worst thing you can do is crush a player's cool idea. In a live game, people can come up with a cool idea every 10 minutes, and so there's much more tolerance for "oh, that didn't work, lets try something else". In a PbP game, things take forever - one cool idea tried out might cost a week of real-life time. If it ends in a disappointment, that's terrible for player morale. And, I'm not saying that means you have to let them get away with any BS justification for overpowered actions - it just means you should watch carefully for anything a player posts that everyone would agree is a :masterstroke: and be very careful not to accidentally just squash that.

-Do not take it personally when things fall apart. As has been said, players have other interests and demands on their time. Sometimes you can be running a great game, and someone decides it just wasn't right for them - or they no longer feel they have the time to devote to it. (Watch out for over-extended players when making character selection! The people who are in 10 games and running 3 more are the ones that burn out and disappear completely... if they get 3 days behind on posting, they face a daunting, all-day task to catch up.) If someone can't manage it any more, work them out of the story and work in someone else.

-The corollary to that is, of course, that you should prioritize the game you're running. Personally I cut back from around 6 to 8 games I had characters in, to more like 4, when I decided I was going to GM a game here. And I run one game at a time, and will do so for the foreseeable future. It might seem like at some point your game has settled in and is running smoothly and you've got a cool idea and so you could easily start up another game... but the first time you have to write two huge updates simultaneously and repeatedly for a week, you might suddenly realize that no, you don't always have 4 hours a day to devote to running your games. As areyoucontagious well knows, even one game can suffer a weeklong interruption if you find yourself unable to put together 2+ hours on any single day for a while. Let that happen too often, and the game is doomed.

-Run a system that lends itself to PbP. 4th edition D&D, with its host of online resources and the ability to use a grid-based map and turn-based combat, is nearly ideal. Plenty of other systems can be made to work, but there are some that just don't do well in PbP. Any game that relies very heavily on inter-player communication is going to be difficult to make work unless you pick players who you know can be in a chatroom, at the same time as each other, on a nearly-daily basis.

Finally, a bit of advice on how to handle sudden character absence: just ask the other players to suggest actions, and then make an executive decision (overrule them if what they suggest is suicidally stupid or makes an irreversible change to the character, but generally go with what they suggest if it is at all reasonable).

Green Intern
Dec 29, 2008

Secret Art: Toxic Crotch Whirlwind!

RagnarokAngel posted:

it adds a lot but I reccomend more subtle music. Something without words is a big leap. If you use something with lyrics it can be distracting and take people's mind off the action, you want to compliment it not ruin it.

This to a T. Most of the games I've played in recently have used music. A couple of the DMs have really gotten into the idea of theme music for each individual character. Your milage may vary on that last bit, but it worked out well for our patched-together "SquareSoft Game," which was supposed to be a homage to SNES RPGs like Final Fantasy/Chrono Trigger.

Yarrbossa
Mar 18, 2008


I have a general question about spellcasters in D&D 3.5, mainly wizards and want suggestions and opinions on how to setup the final fights in my campaign from people who are probably far more creative.

I'm plotting the last setup for our campaign, and they are going to be facing off against the king, the king's head wizard, and his personal assassin.

I'm trying to come up with a nice scenario for them to have a nice epic fight, but I'm realizing that I'm confused with high level spellcasters. It seems a bit unfair that other players get 2-3 attacks per turn based on their level, while the wizard gets one spell per turn unless he takes quicken spell on a few, then ditches higher level slots for a at-will magic missile. I've read through the PH several times looking to see if wizards get any other bonuses other than unlocking higher level spells.

Can someone give me an idea how a high level wizard(I'm thinking level 8-10 as the players will all be level 6-7...unless that seems to high/low?) would possibly play? Obviously, they have many helpful spells outside of combat as well as in, but it seems like they are getting shorted if they get ambushed and their opponents each close in within a round or two and each get 2-3 attacks while the wizard has 1-2 spells to try and deter 4-5 PC's.

I'm honestly stumped on how to set this up so he doesn't have a 99% chance of getting slaughtered in the first round, yet making it fun for the PC's. I've tossed around him enchanting the throne room with floating platforms, while raining poo poo down from above. I've also thought of him changing several guards into things more fearsome than a castle guard, but nothing seems like it would be particularly interesting for them.

Opinions would be nice, and suggestions of nice setups. It will all take place inside a castle, or directly outside on parts of the castle(bridges, towers, things like that). If they succeed, then a gnomish airship will come save them from the castle (they've been begging for one all semester, as well as investing in the gnomes to finish one). I even thought about the wizard somehow taking the castle with him, to where it's a dramatic rescue in an airship leaving a smoldering castle behind...but I'm not sure how to work that much in.

tldr; Help me understand how to play a level 8-10 wizard and possibly throw suggestions to help make a nice epic ending for my campaign.

ItalicSquirrels
Feb 15, 2007

What?

First thing he'd probably do is cast Mirror Image on himself and possibly the king. That'd help him stay up longer in case a fighter decides to go toe-to-toe with him. Aside from that, a fireball dropped on a level 7 adventurer hurts. There's nothing wrong with him performing the occasional act of arcane artillery.

ergot
Jan 25, 2002
Heresiarch

You may wish to consider making the wizard cast at party level, but give him a template to toughen him up without giving him access to spells like Cloudkill and Teleport because the first thing any wizard charged with protecting the king should do is cast Cloudkill on the party followed by Teleporting himself and the king a thousand miles away.

If he wins initiative and is feeling saucy maybe he casts Improved Invisibility on the assassin first.

tldr; wizards cheat

Bedurndurn
Dec 4, 2008


Yarrbossa posted:

I'm trying to come up with a nice scenario for them to have a nice epic fight, but I'm realizing that I'm confused with high level spellcasters. It seems a bit unfair that other players get 2-3 attacks per turn based on their level, while the wizard gets one spell per turn unless he takes quicken spell on a few, then ditches higher level slots for a at-will magic missile. I've read through the PH several times looking to see if wizards get any other bonuses other than unlocking higher level spells.

Can someone give me an idea how a high level wizard(I'm thinking level 8-10 as the players will all be level 6-7...unless that seems to high/low?) would possibly play? Obviously, they have many helpful spells outside of combat as well as in, but it seems like they are getting shorted if they get ambushed and their opponents each close in within a round or two and each get 2-3 attacks while the wizard has 1-2 spells to try and deter 4-5 PC's.

I'm honestly stumped on how to set this up so he doesn't have a 99% chance of getting slaughtered in the first round, yet making it fun for the PC's. I've tossed around him enchanting the throne room with floating platforms, while raining poo poo down from above. I've also thought of him changing several guards into things more fearsome than a castle guard, but nothing seems like it would be particularly interesting for them.

The big thing with the wizard is walking the fine line between making a challenging fight and pissing in people's cornflakes. Most of what makes wizards powerful is that they can cast a single spell that royally screws up the entire opposing team. As a PC, that can be hilarious. As a DM, you suddenly have a tableful of players staring back at you grumpily.

So here's some ideas, pick and choose what you think works for your group (and more importantly what sounds fun):

5th level spells
Dominate Person - Flip one of the low will save PCs to your team. Not super fun for most people. Some players enjoy the opportunity to murder their friends though.

Feeblemind - Completely remove one of the PC's casters from the battle. Not fun at all honestly.

Wall of Stone - Creates a fairly decent-sized wall that can keep some of the melee PCs from coming in and hurting your NPCs. Since the wall has hp, the trapped player at least has something to wail on while he waits to get free. Clever people can escape through judicious use of skill checks / teamwork.

Teleport - Recurring villain in a can. Vanish out when trouble's afoot, possibly taking your allies (like the King) with you.

4th level stuff

Fear, Confusion - These absolutely rock against things with a low will save (which is pretty much any PC that isn't a spellcaster). Fear probably removes a PC from the entire battle if its successful. Confusion potentially hits many of them with the same spell, either wasting their actions or making them fight each other. These really aren't very fun though.

Evard's Tentacles - Creates a big zone that grapples anyone in it. It will probably be successful on anyone you want to use it against, though a fighter or barbarian may escape if they roll well. Getting it off on the wizard or any other low STR PC will probably take them out of the fight, maybe even kill them at this level. Things caught in it can actively try to escape, which at least keeps people paying attention. You'll have to review how grappling works though.

Solid Fog - A big slowing zone to hamper physical attackers.

Stoneskin - Grants a hefty DR 10 / adamantine to whoever you want to protect.

Invisibility, Greater - A huge defense (and offense for the assassin) buff. Flat out ignore 50% of all incoming attacks.

Dimension Door - Basically like a much weaker version of teleport.

3rd level

Displacement - See what I wrote about Invisibility

Blink - Similar to Displacement / Invisibility but with some downsides for the wizard.

Slow - Significantly hamper your PCs. Reduce that 2-3 attacks a round to 1.

Fly - Basically it's immunity to melee attacks unless your epic battle room has very low ceilings.

Hold Person - Temporarily render someone helpless. Permanently render someone helpless if the assassin coup-de-grace's the PC while he's helpless.

2nd level

Levitate - Lower budget version of Fly.

Mirror Image - Huge defense buff.

*False Life - Precast this and you'll have some temp hp to work with at the start of a fight.

Shatter - Utter dick move, but this can destroy the fighter's sword or whatever fairly easily.

Web / Tasha's Laughter - More disabling/hindering spells.

Glitterdust - Potentially render the entire melee group blind at once.

1st level

*Mage Armor - Precast this so you have an AC people actually need to try to overcome.

Shield - Even more AC, though with a shorter duration.

Enlarge Person - If your king is a powerful melee guy, he'll be even better as a Large critter with reach.

Grease - The best 1st level spell. Of all time. Repeatedly screws with anyone who can't get out of its area. Anyone who doesn't have 5 ranks in Balance is flat-footed while balancing, which means your assassin does SA damage.


Cool Toys
Lesser Metamagic Rod of Sculpt Spell (Maybe its shape spell, it's been a while) - Its cheap (in gp) but it lets you apply the Sculpt Spell feat to 3 spells a day of 3rd level or lower. Basically this makes Grease, Glitterdust, Slow and the like even better. I think this isn't a core item though, so skip this is you're only running stuff out of the PHB, DMG and MM.

So you've got a ton of powerful options for your wizard, its just a matter of how frustrating you're willing to be.

If you're not interested in going that route, just keep tossing AoE spells at things, but remember that it can add up pretty quickly if people aren't making their reflex saves. A Cone of Cold and a Fireball ought to do 70 if they fail both saves or 35 if they make both of them. A flying, fireballing wizard can be a scary thing.

Bedurndurn fucked around with this message at Dec 15, 2009 around 21:36

TheAnomaly
Feb 20, 2003


do you want a tough encounter? An Epic encounter? Or a battle of wits with plausible (and possibly likely) TPK? Think on this as you read my following post.

To begin, give him the opportunity to precast a few spells. Mirror image, displacement, greater invis on the assassin, Greater Mage Armor (3rd level spell, +6 to Ac instead of 4). He should also cast Mind Fog just outside the room they plan on facing the combatants in, and a secret entrance/exit to avoid it.

Then, at the beginning of the fight you can choose from:
Dominate mind (5th) targets will saves and takes someone out of the game or Baleful Polymorph (5th) targets fort and take someone out of the game. Use the first on a fighter/barbarian and the latter on the rogue, the loosen up whatevers left with the assassin and king. Phantasmal Killer (4th) requires a will then a fort, but fail both and it's death. Enervation (4th), does a 1d4 negative levels, is probably the most evil thing to hit someone with in the game.. it's a ray, so it requires a ranged touch attack roll to hit, but gives no save.

Those are probably the worst, cruelest most despicable spells you can throw at your players at the get go. If they've just rofflestomped their way through the rest of your encounters, it guarantees a tough fight. If they've had trouble already, cut them slack and don't use them. Also remember that any of the aforementioned pretty much neuter a PC, so if you do use them prepare to have a bored player on your hands. Much better, and more fun, use of spells involves the classics; fireball, lightning bolt, dazzle, confusion, Still Image (Greater) adding hazards that aren't there to the fight. Remember, if you ever think a mage is being treated unfairly or they don't seem powerful enough in comparison, you're wrong or you're below third level.

EDIT: and just to be sure you actually don't use any of the earlier mentioned spells unless your party has just been unstoppable, the last fight of the Castle Ravenloft module is basically a 10th level spellcaster/vampire who plays that kind of hardball with his spells

And if you have a wizard, make sure to leave him a spellbook with the spells used and a few other nifty spells to copy into his own, and several uses worth of diamond dust for the stoneskin spell.

One other extra fun option would also be to make the wizard lower level than the party, like 5th level, with all of his primary spells being spent on defensive options, then give him some higher level scrolls. Start with a Horrid wilting cast by a 13th level mage, then a fireball cast by a 10th level mage, then a Stone to Flesh cast on the party member with the best fort save (he's a lowbie wizard, after all, and doesn't do much fighting), etc.. etc... etc... That way you can throw out some fun spells, but there's always the chance they won't work if he fails a caster level check and the saves lower. You also don't have to justify not giving uber-powerful spells away in a spellbook, and your caster has to choose between copying whatever's left into his own book or using the scrolls.

TheAnomaly fucked around with this message at Dec 15, 2009 around 22:53

projecthalaxy
Dec 27, 2008

Yes hello it is I Kurt's Secret Son


What's everyone's opinion on battle royale type things for 4e? This will be my first time running it and my players first time playing it (we played Fallout). Basically, the three of them will be going through tearing kobolds out of this fort so they can live in it (contract with local count) when suddenly in one of the back rooms, they are engaging two slingers and 4 minions, when a Zombie ambles into the room from outside.

I am still working on how the zombie got there, but the basic thing is that has a glowing rune on its head that a cleric in town can ID as the signet of an old wizard from the next county over who is now a lich and our lv. 20 boss. So I want the zombie there.

Basically, the kobolds, the players, and the zombie are three seperate camps that all want to be the only one alive. So, do the players try to tank both of them, try to forge an alliance with the kobold tribe that is still decorating their armor, or hope the zombie and Kobolds eliminate each other? This is the question I am asking the players. Basically, is this just too complicated, in your experience?

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Fenarisk
Oct 26, 2005



I've done this before but on a much larger scale (defending a town), but with undead forces and orcs. Basically, play each side how their would normally go. The kobolds are going to try and keep their distance from the zombie, perhaps using their shifty racial to put the PC's between them and the zombie.

The zombie will probably just try and attack whatever is closest, honestly.

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