Gamer Forge Listener Email:
I'm currently working on a homebrew system and one concept I was intending to incorporate is that there is no in-game currency; items are traded using a barter system. The thing is, how do I set a 'base price' to measure the worth of an item against?
For example, how do I indicate that generally a sword is worth 3 skins worth of water but a dagger is only worth 1?
I had thought to have units of water as a base price for every item of equipment, but then that just seems to be changing one currency for another.
Are there any systems with a similar mechanic?
Gamer Forge Response:
This week, the DCR crew got an e-mail concerning the use of the barter system. Who runs Bartertown? DCR says:
1. Determine the most valuable commodity. Is it water? Is it metal? Wood? You need to determine the preciousness something that everyone wants. The Dark Sun game setting places metal as the high end resource. That effectively becomes that world's version of gold. In the Mad Max films, water and gasoline are more precious than anything. Value of commodities goes down from there. Don't worry about setting prices for something, because the barter system doesn't price goods, because the value of goods depends entirely on the individual needing them.
2. Just how willing are you to part with "X"? If your characters are desperate for that last box of Twinkies, they must be willing to part with something they have, because money doesn't exist. In the film, Book of Eli, Denzel Washington has to part with his material goods in order to get enough water for his journey. This is the very core of the barter system: personal value. So, in order to emphasize the need for such value, have the players keep meticulous track of their goods, because those goods are now their money. When situations arise that require them trade for new goods, take a quick peek at their sheets so a level trade can occur. Don't necessarily exploit that personal value they place, but keep it in context with the world in which they play. Just because a player values a magic shield, doesn't mean the trader wants the magic shield. Maybe that last skin of water or last day's worth of rations is way more appealing...
3. It works both ways. Players need to be able to examine the resources of the immediate area and the landscape. A dwarven city won't have much use for rough cut gems, while a river town may not have need for fresh fish. Just keep the descriptions of the areas your players visit so that the needs of the people come into play. This big detail helps breathe more life into your campaign world by showing just how the world revolves while they're not around. Lastly, the barter system is NOT an exact science.
Gamer Forge Listener Email:
Here's the situation. There's a locked door that prevents any further progress into the dungeon. There's a keyhole in the door and a message basically saying that the key needs to be wished for.
In the room with the locked door is a wishing well. Each person is limited to one wish, and successive attempts just inflict damage to the wisher.
It's very straightforward: someone needs to wish for the key and it will appear, and they can unlock the door. The intent was not to present the players with a complex puzzle or anything time-consuming. The intended effect was that all but one player get a free wish, but one person has to sacrifice their wish to get past the door (and later be rewarded for their selflessness).
But, as always, things did not go according to plan. Without even discussing the key, each character went ahead and made their selfish wish. Okay, no big deal. You can brute force the door or just break it down with an axe. But my players are terrified that something awful will happen if they destroy the door, even though I have done nothing to indicate this.
They've tried wishing for the key, but since they all expended their wish, the well just damages them and doesn't work. So they've now set their mind to solving this puzzle that doesn't exist. They are trying to find deeper meaning in the words on the door, trying to word the wish more precisely, taking unnecessary damage all the while. The last 30 minutes of our session was spent on this.
Now I'm all for causing a little party frustration. But it's starting to drag on. I want to explain to them that they've simply exhausted their wishes and need to find an alternative way to get past the door. I want to smack the fighter over the head and tell him to just bash it down. But that's not the way I roll (heh, heh).
I would provide subtle clues - the magic aura of the wishing well fades, or something along those lines, but the damage has already been done. They've inspected the well and the door and I've already told them that there is nothing different about it.
How can I get my players to overcome this obstacle without just telling them outright?
Gamer Forge Response:
We love this situation! We really do! When players are stuck between a keyhole and a wishing well, DCR says:
1. Well, duh! You gave players a free wish. Was any other outcome truly expected? Indeed, the DCR Ten Commandments state: Thou shalt respect the consequences of thine actions. Your players were given an open invitation to solve this challenge and they squandered it. But let's go back a bit. No, it's not too much to expect that adventurers will have a few moments of altruism and selflessness. The outcome of this situation can help illustrate the importance of thinking beyond munchkin-ing out their character sheets.
2. A funny consequence may be to have another adventurer NPC walk out of the locked room holding some generic loot and show them what they missed out. Remember, that this is a moment of consequence, so they shouldn't even get an opportunity to mug the NPC and jank the loot, because that just bypasses the challenge. Also, don't get preachy about it. Once they see what they missed out on, just move on with the adventure. They won't hold it against you if you don't keep holding it against them.
3. The deep part: Does the rest of your adventure hinge on getting what's behind the door? There doesn't seem to be any reason why your story can't just move on somewhere else. Remain mindful, Dungeon Master, that you are running a game and are responsible for keeping things moving. If players make too much noise in the room, have something sneak up behind them and attack, or do something to get them moving along.
*Bonus XP: Most films and books that deal with an apocalypse or some kind of global context as part of it's setting are a great place to start looking at how a barter system works. Mad Max, The Book of Eli, The Road, The Hunger Games, and District 9 are all settings that involve the use of a barter system. Just find your commodity and transplant it into your game's setting. To get a very real look at bartering, imagine what it would be like on a deserted island with the adventurers. Money loses value quickly while resources and small, everyday contrivances take over as the new gold.
Gamer Forge Listener Email:
Grom The Barlor Slayer
When exactly do “once each round” effects work?
Quite a bit of spell effects state that they work once in a round.
For example, Balor Nimbus:
each round, the flames deal 6d6 points of fire damage to any creature grappling you (or any creature you grapple) on your turn.
When exactly on my turn does the effect happen? Am I right assuming that the effect happens once on my turn at the earliest possible moment? There ought to be a clear ruling somewhere, I just can't find it.
To clarify a bit, consider this situation (Initiative order is X then Y then Z):
1.On round 1, X casts Balor nimbus (standard action), then Celerity (swift action), then starts a grapple agains Y (standard action from Celerity) and gets a hold. Does his opponent get burned right away? Or does the damage occur at the beginning of the round?
2.On Y's turn he breaks free.
3.On Z's turn Z starts grapple with X and gets a hold.
4.Next round, X breaks free from grapple (standard action). Does Z take damage from Balor Nimbus?
Bonus question, to complicate things more:
1.X has Improved Grab ability and Balor Nimbus on. X grapples Y with one hand.
2.It is start of X's turn. Does Y take damage from Balor Nimbus? If yes, when X grapples Z with his other hand, does Z take damage from Balor Nimbus?
If Balor Nimbus is too hard, let's try Wall of Fire.
"Once each round" effect: happens at the beginning of the round or at the earliest possible moment at the round? Goes off once at some moment in time or once for each creature affected, possibly at different moments?
I'm interested in an answer supported by the rules.
Gamer Forge Response:
Group hug! When figuring out when players feel the heat, DCR says:
1. You feel the burn the moment your hands enter the fire. Damage is applied as soon as you are grappled by the user of spell, and applied again at the start of the caster's turn, provided the caster is still grappling the target. But we also asked this, why would someone willingly attempt to grab someone who is on fire? Which leads us to...
2. Whoever offensively grabbed, sets the mark. So if you are crazy enough to grapple someone who is on fire, then you apply damage on your turn, not the caster's. It's just the price you pay for going on the offensive. Initiating a grapple maneuver usually entails a full turn, so there isn't much, if anything, one can do avoid taking damage. Also, Z equals 4.
3. Anything that aids the grapple, aids the spell. Feats like Improved Grapple, along with spells similar to Bigby's Crushing Fist also apply to this spell. If you stack your deck right, the caster may never have to put him/herself in harm's way to grapple opponents. It sounds dirty, but such is the benefit of surviving long enough to figure this stuff out. The player was smart enough to live this long, and deserves to reap the benefits of his/her longevity. Thumbs up!
Gamer Forger Listener Email:
So I've got a campaign where one of the characters, a fighter, severely distrusts magical items. The party level is 6+, and it seems difficult to figure out a way to compensate this character in non-magical treasure (as the challenge ratings of the encounters are getting up there).
I also have to add that I really like the role playing decision to distrust magic – it adds a flavor to the campaign that I've never had before. If anything, I want this player to continue or distrust magic further.
What have you guys done in this situation?
Gamer Forge Response:
Magic? Ewwww! Get it away! Kill it! When your hero believes magic = cooties, DCR says:
1. First, we need to define just how mistrusting of magic is the character. Is magic healing acceptable? Is it just items? Do trinkets count? From what we understand, spells are okay, but items are not. DM should talk this detail over with player to get a good grasp of this very amusing nuance of the character.
2. Value of teamwork. If this character is opposed to using magic weapons, he/she will have to count on the magic aid of others. Your fighter is really good at fighting, but even that skill only gets you so far. This presents a great roleplay opportunity between players, as they will have to become not just adventuring companions, but friends. If the player wants to continue having the character distrust magic, this seems to be the easiest way for both sides of the table. Otherwise, the DM will have to scale things back so the fighter can actually tow his/her line in the group. You run a high risk of leaving this fighter in the dust as far as combat challenges.
3. If magic is an absolute necessity in the setting, it is a wholly legitimate strategy to trick the fighter into using a magic item. Just don't let on that it's magic. Give the item some relevance, so he/she will be inclined to use it, but don't tell him that it is. This works for the players, as well. A player can trick another player. For instance, the fighter receives an heirloom sword handed down from three generations ago and has an engraved ebony handle, etc. Thus, the player will be inclined to use it, since it has a relevance. Now, the DM covertly adds whatever bonus to each attacks. The fighter need not be the wiser.
*Bonus XP: When keeping things interesting with grappling and fire, try adding some flair (get it?) to your grappling moves. Modern grappling arts like jiu-jitsu and judo are rife with fun maneuvers for grappling on the ground and standing up. Look up the subject of mixed martial arts on YouTube and Wikipedia to get a start point. Make note of some maneuvers you think look dramatic or painful, and throw those into your game to add some great flavor text to your attacks. Remember, these fighting styles are actual used as practical methods in street fighting. So don't be timid when using them the first time.
This week, since Revan deprived us of his company, the remaining three heroes decided to take a look at the basics of making a dungeon. When it comes to the very, very basics of building the better dungeon, DCR says:
1. What exactly is the scope of things? What does the dungeon look like with nobody inside it? Is it all made of brick and mortar? Is it rough-hewn stone. Is it in a cave? Is it made of wood? Does it have flowing lava everywhere? Firebird says it best, "Know your surroundings." This avoids the disjointed feeling players may get going from room to room. Make sure it's not constantly changing based on your mood.
2. What kind of challenge will this present? Try spacing out the difficult battles in between some smaller cronies and henchman. If every dungeon progresses in the "ladder formation", then players may start feeling the snooze fest. This is part of making the dungeon part of your living, breathing world. The creatures of this place don't just freeze when the heroes exit. They were doing what they were doing before the heroes decided to enter. This one little detail can make or break your game, as small details can keep players interested in what happens around them. Also, think of the flow of the dungeon like a house. Does it loop back into itself, like Skyrim? Does the cave come to a dead-end? Is it just a big warehouse?
3. Now you can worry about what enemies to put in. You've established the surroundings and context. You've established the map. The last detail is filling it with your enemies. Now it may be tempting to throw in everything the DM thinks is awesome, but don't rush! Just keep in mind what was in the room before. Don't have killer fish-men in the room right after a mutant bee-hive filled with lasers. If you want to have fish-men, just have other things appear in the dungeon that may appear with fish-men. Patience, patience, patience!
*Bonus XP: To give your dungeon a bit of familiarity, play a game of classic Clue. Each of the rooms in the house has a certain context within the goal of the game. Sure, there aren't any monsters in the house, but there also aren't any inexplicable changes in scenery to throw players off. The whole scene is tied into the ultimate goal: solve the murder. Keep the players playing the same game together!
Gamer Forge Listener Email:
Hey DCR could you talk about this on your show? We are a small gaming group in Calgary and could use your insight.
Also we just have to say we love the Ed & Double D special!
So here is my question.
How do I deal with overly cautious players?
Recent encounters with hard to hurt opponents have left the party pretty beat up. Now the players are now seemingly scared by similar encounters and prefer fleeing.
I'm GMing a game of Pathfinder for friends, using a premade module. They plays a team of four characters and it's been going great so far. Recently though, the group has started facing harder opponents with various immunities or high damage output. Result: the party has taken a beating but is still alive. My players confidence though? Went down for the count.
The party had a series of encounters with creatures that displayed unusual powers and immunities. Some of them were more dangerous than I think the module intended, and others would have been less dangerous but the party didn't react the way the module expected (not least because they were spooked by the earlier dangerous encounters). The party also didn't get any mental breathing room by being given fights they could simply smash in between these more dangerous or unusual encounters.
This resulted in the players quickly getting spooked, feeling like they were in over their head, and so we spent the session with the characters running away. It did not make for a fun session on either side.
How do I reassure the players and make the fighting something to look forward to rather than a frustrating experience of hide and seek?
Should I start adapting the scenario to manage the player's fear level and put a few easier encounters to show their party is not inept? Or should I push some tools that could help against those opponents?
• How do you reassure your players when a new encounter brings back an unexpected previous-encounter trauma?
• How do you reconcile the fact the encounter is meant to be scary, is indeed scary to the players, but you suddenly wish it would not be?
The issue has been discussed with the player right after the session since it was obvious we were both disappointed by these few hours. He admitted being gradually scared by multiple things:
• A previous encounter with a creature which required spending more resources than usual to defeat. The problematic encounter is meant to look like that creature at first, so... trauma.
• The description of the new creature (it is eerie and menacing in various ways)
• The legend one of the PCs remembered, which seems linked to the creature (legendary creature?!)
• The problematic encounter's secret true nature led to alarmingly unusual and apparent rule-breaking effects when the party didn't figure out the truth quickly.
The player actually enjoys combat, quite possibly more than roleplaying encounters. He is not yet knowledgeable about all the tactical possibilities of the system though (nor am I, really).
Gamer Forge Response:
Holy guacamole! This one was a doozy! Its a bummer when your heroes get their day wrecked, but when it comes to climbing back on the saddle, DCR says:
1. It's okay to stroke their ego a little. That's the importance of henchman. Not every battle or conflict needs to be epic-sized. If "epic" is the norm, then what becomes the new "epic"? When the players are having a problem getting their confidence back, throw them a bone. Give them a battle or two with some puny goblins or something. But when you throw them a bone, DO NOT throw them a curve ball. If they find a five skeletons, then they find ONLY five skeletons. No swerves. What they see is what they get. The bridge of trust needs to rebuilt, and it won't happen if they don't trust the one responsible for telling where the bridge leads.
2. Introduce an NPC to accompany the heroes to give them a boost of confidence. But friends don't let friends play NPC's willy-nilly. An adventuring NPC should never outshine or outperform a player character in any statistical manner. The NPC is there to act as cheerleader, or worst case scenario, as training wheels. If the players grow attached to the hireling or henchman or whatever the NPC ends up being, just have it handling things non-specifically in the background. Let the players have the spotlight whenever possible. If you want to hire a mercenary or henchman to carry your adventure gear, remember that players should have to pay or share the spoils of battle, including experience. This opens the door for when the players wish to separate from the NPC by not letting them get too attached. On the other hand, if the players do get attached, they won't mind so much sharing the spoils and can be there to cheer on the players once the training wheels come back off. This is about getting their confidence back, after all.
3. Now, for the hard part. And we all three agreed that this one is tough. But some lessons need to be learned the hard way. If your players drew the conclusion that the creature was legendary because the words "legend" and "creature" appeared in the same sentence, then they deserve what happened. If the DM gave them ample chances and clues to keep them on a certain path, and they still arrived at that conclusion, then they deserve to be running. They bit the hand that fed them. But now that that part is over, now its time for both parties to move on and learn from the mistake. Hopefully, the players can take a hard, objective look at the problem and the outcome, and take back an experience of growth. And laughter. If you can't laugh after learning, then what was the point of learning anything?
Bonus XP: For the penultimate NPC, look no further than Star Wars. C-3PO was annoying, eccentric, droll, and flat-out hated by fans. But there were a few moments where the heroes would not have succeeded without his help. Yet, he was out-classed physically by everyone else, including R2-D2. When it came time to fight, he scooted neatly into the background, and helped set the mood for the entire film franchise. He was endeared just enough to keep him around, and filled just the right niche when the time was just right. Most importantly, he was right beside the heroes during their greatest moments and welcomed them home, not do the work for them or take credit. Perfect. Simply perfect.
The GamerForge is DungeonCrawlersRadio’s most favoritist segment of the entire show. Have you ever had a boggling rules question that no one in the group can figure out? Write in to us and we’ll help try to solve it! Are you a Game/Dungeon Master who needs help squashing animosity at the table or dissension in the ranks? Perhaps we can help!
If you are in need of help, encouragement, or an uber devious way to get a TPK, we are here to help. No matter your needs, we’ll help you get more from your gaming!
The Gamer Forge
Where Players & Game Masters can come for valuable information to level up your game!