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.
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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.
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.
This week, we took a look back at when players are getting their feet wet for the first time. Whether you're a new gamer, or a seasoned veteran, DCR says:
1. Help whenever possible, but only when asked. This coincides with one of our Ten Commandments of Gaming, "encourage new players and invite them back." More experienced players should create an environment of openness to players who are learning. Much like a good college professor or a mentor, its about being a teacher/student. Don't let this go to your head, because this is only a temporary situation. A good teacher can have a student learning on their own and instill a sense of confidence in their students. Sometimes it may get to be a hassle to help new players learn a new skill, but it is so very worth it when a player finally "gets it". Answer questions for a new player, but encourage him/her to find answers on their own. Point them in the right direction.
2. It may sound tempting to know everything about a game system, but it isn't worth it. Don't bother. Start with the basics. Focus on learning the core mechanics and the other nuances of your game usually just fall into place. Let your knowledge grow naturally. There is no need to rush to catch up to the other players. It may even take a few years for this to come to fruition, but again, it's so worth it.
3. Find common ground. Experienced players should remember when they were first learning a game and what it was like for themselves. New players can aspire to find the characters that are right for them, and the methods in which they like to play. All players can swap war stories about their favorite moments. Every player, whether old or new, has a great opportunity to make friends that you may not otherwise have had a chance to meet.
*Bonus XP: All of this ties into one easy statement: Drop the pretense of superiority! There is no need for such a counter-productive mentality. It's this common perception in the public eye that scares new players off. Do some real good for your favorite pastime and your friends, and just do a reality check. Help, learn, and don't sweat the small things.
Gamer Forge Listener Email:
Name: Pamela Wilson
Comments: In a game that I'm in, the DM has decided to go with a lycan vs. vampire concept, and this has created a few conundrums. Can you give your input as to these conundrums?
One of the characters in our group is a dragon disciple, and another character is a barbarian. Both of them decided to take the vampire route, but no one is sure what happens with their constitution-increasing abilities. For example, when the barbarian rages, would that increase his charisma, instead of his constitution?
So far as I can find, whenever a creature doesn't have an ability score (such as a construct or an undead or an incorporeal) generally they use another ability score for all purposes the other would cover. For example, undead use their charisma modifier to determine health and fortitude bonuses, as they don't have a constitution score.
QUESTION: When a creature doesn't have an ability score, and that ability score receives an increase from an ability/spell, how does that effect the creature?
Gamer Forge Response:
Bad mojo! When playing as an undead template, DCR says:
Short answer: Nope.
Undead and (most) constructs don't get a Constitution score at all. And as you have no score to increase, you gain no bonus from a barbarian's rage or a dragon disciple's increased Constitution score. Official ruling says you're hosed. Sorry. Maybe as a house rule, you can find a way to grant a bonus of some kind, like substituting the Charisma score for the Constitution score.
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Comments: Can you help explain something for me?
On page 74 of the DMG (Step 5: Consequences), it says that if you fail a skill challenge, it can become more difficult, such as detouring you in a different direction. Could you attempt the same challenge again at a higher difficulty? So, could you try 'talking to the ogre again,' but since it already knows what you want, it makes it more complex and you need to work harder for the answer?
Gamer Forge Response:
You've got skills, but do they pay the bills? When getting a second chance is your first priority, DCR says:
Yes and no. Depends on the skill.
You can get a second chance to talk a dwarf out of his lunch, but you can't fall to your death twice. It's called consequence of failure. If failing your attempt leads to something permanent or in any way irreversible, then you shouldn't get a second try. Otherwise, give 'em another try, provided the player decides to try again. Some examples of skill checks that do not get a second chance:
Note that these examples have something in common. Either you succeed at them, or you don't. You either forage enough food for the day, or you resort to eating your rations. You are able to hear what's coming, or you don't. Most other skills allow for a second try on the following round. Just remember the risk of the check involved and the consequences of not succeeding.
*Bonus XP: Even though you don't have a Constitution score for being a vampire, you do still gain all the other benefits of your class/race. Yes, it stinks that you don't gain bonus hit points and increased CON, but you gain a totally sweet damage reduction, immunities, and then there's the whole immortality thing. So before we hear you moaning about not getting something, count your blessings. Even awesomeness has a price.
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Comments: I recently started DMing after playing 4th edition D&D around 10-15 times. While going over player and DM books I started to wonder if regeneration works while a PC is dying.
For example, a level 2 fighter by the name of Korgul is down to -2 hit points. In the previous round he used Boundless Endurance. Since his modifier for the skill gives +2, that is a regeneration of +4. This would mean that he would get to 2 hit points at the start of his round and become conscious? Or does the regeneration stop?
Well this turned into to 2 questions actually. First one is about regeneration and dying in general. Does dying count as bloodied in relation to Boundless Endurance.
To me, as a DM, if regeneration worked while dying it would seem overpowered.
Gamer Forge Response:
Regeneration does take effect after you fall below zero hit points. Most of the regeneration powers require you to spend an action of some kind to activate, so you must be conscious to use it. If the regeneration is in effect before the character falls, then it stays active while they are down. No need to deny what is rightfully won. BUT, keep in mind that death saving throws must still be taken when a character falls below zero hit points, as usual. In short, regeneration is fair game.
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Name: Richard Besley
Comments: When I first started playing with a group of completely new players, one of the first things I did was to explain the alignments as best I could at the time. When describing Chaotic Neutral, my exact words were, "A chaotic neutral character will do whatever he wants to do, so long as there is a reason that is justifiable to at least him behind doing so."
Well, recently, I'm beginning to think that that explanation is not exactly accurate, or at least not perfectly clear.
To explain, through every game I have played with this group, I have regretted each and every time I allowed a player to play a chaotic neutral character. The exact same thing will happen, no matter how many times I explain why it shouldn't. Said character will, for no reason I can fathom other than because his player (and by extension the character itself) wants to. Anything from using a squirrel to test out a new spell, to burning down the local pub to stop the flow of polluted beer, to openly mocking authority figures until nothing short of character death is put on the table, and even then only because I made the desire for self-preservation a required character trait. This is not to say that they do this because they prefer to, or that it's simply a style of play that they find more fun. We've played campaigns where I banned chaotic-neutral alignment, and everyone enjoyed themselves without this being an issue. It's simply that, whenever this issue comes up, I'll point it out to them and they'll reply with some variant of, 'I'm a chaotic character, and I'm being chaotic. Why is that wrong?" I don't have an answer to that.
So, what's a better way to describe a chaotic neutral character? How do I explain to this group that, even if the alignment is 'chaotic,' that doesn't mean they have to play either chaotic-stupid, or insane?
Gamer Forge Response:
Your alignment isn't like the alignment on your car! These things can change and shift like the winds. When it comes to not making your character "Chaotic Stupid", DCR says:
1. What defines chaos and neutrality, and what happens when you combine the two? "Chaotic Neutral", as defined by Dungeons and Dragons, states that chaos must balance the scale between good and evil, without preference to either one. This is much easier than it sounds. Being unpredictable is only small part of the big picture. The end result should be something along the lines of everything balancing out, and neither side is ahead. That's the real problem. "Chaotic Neutral" involves nobody truly getting ahead in anything.
2. Motivation! Alignment is a motivation, not a justification. It's about the start of the action, not the end. Your character's alignment is never a reason to commit a good or evil act. If the character is already bent on burning down an orphanage, he/she is gonna do it. But this also means that the character is already evil. We say that an alignment can change as soon as your GM decides that your motivations are clear. If you are hell-bent on being "Chaotic Neutral", be aware that that can change just as easily as your actions do.
3. You are an outsider! As "Chaotic Neutral", you will be extremely hard to deal with, professionally and personally. Your shifting attitudes and actions will make you hard to pin down and even harder to rely on. That's just it: you will ultimately be unreliable! Nobody will want to count on you. So what's the point of even playing? You may as well be playing a computer game. Sadly, this is where being this alignment hits a dead end. We say that it's best to just steer clear of "Chaotic Neutral". Alternately, just do away with alignments all together.
Bonus XP: Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski. That's the only real exemplar of "Chaotic Neutral" we can think of. Which absolutely proves the point that this alignment is unreliable. Funny? Yes. Adventure? Not at all. At best, he is motivated by laziness and keeping Walter off his back. Remember this the next time you decide to pop that movie into your DVD or Blu-Ray player.
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Comments: This question about Charm Person got me musing about a problem with the spell. Obviously, you can't cast Charm Person in the middle of a forum to sway an interlocutor to your side without the other 20 persons noticing the foul play. And yet, I'd find it incredibly cool if it was somehow pulled off in a game.
My question is thus : Is there any mean to covertly cast a spell in d&d3.5 / Pathfinder ?
I've thought about Quicken Spell but nothing in the feat description indicates that you're not noticeable in doing this (as the spell still "takes an action", be it a swift one).
Gamer Forge Response:
This was a hard one. No joke, it was difficult. But when getting the most of a charm, DCR says:
1. You're gonna need a distraction. It's called a Tennessee Shuffle. When everybody is looking left, you move right. Have one of your companions run interference by causing a commotion. Fake a seizure or something. Uncontrolled outburst from the gallery. Something. This will give the player the moment he/she needs to begin casting the charm. It's not very sophisticated, but when being sneaky, its all about subtlety.
2. Just how subtle can you be? You've got several dozen, if not a hundred people actually watching you as you do this. No pressure, right? The key to winning this will be hiding the charm in your argument. We were reminded of an old "Pinky and the Brain" episode where a scheme involved hiding a subliminal message in a paragraph. This phase of the plan will involve all of your wits and charisma, as one slip of the tongue and you are BUSTED! To tip the scales in your favor, construct your argument to include certain phrases and the final sentence will have a sort of "trigger word" to have it take effect. But none of that will matter unless...
3. Do your homework. Find out who will be attending the gathering and make sure that no one will be actively looking for magical influence. This will be the easiest step, and the most crucial to the plan. None of this will work if you have the extra scrutiny centered on you. In general, when making and executing a dastardly plan like this, just take precautions. Oh, and have and escape plan!
Gamer Forge Listener Email:
Name: Jacob Stevens
My name is Jacob and I live in Raleigh, North Carolina. I have been listening to your show over the years. I started way back when it was just Revan and Malak. Those shows were interesting to say the least but over the years the show has really matured and grown into a really solid show.
Even with the ups and downs you have experience over the years.
So down to my question.
When running a campaign, especially one with newer players mixed with optimizers, is it a fair call to limit the variety of books available for play? For feats, classes, prestige classes, magic items and spells? (or whatever other variants exist in whatever other system and it's expanded rulebooks)
It seems that this would be quite unfair to the optimizer, but not doing so comes across as unfair to the beginner. Barring the idea to just separate these two breeds into different play sessions, is limiting the variety of books a sign of fair DMing, bad DMing or neither?
Gamer Forge Response:
Yay! We got to do two topics this week! When laying down the ground rules, DCR says:
1. If you're not sure, just start simple. Especially when introducing players who are new to the RPG experience, it's best to have finite options. It can cause a great deal of frustration for a new player to have to pour over a mountain of books to find something, when a core class will do just fine. Besides, it's counter-productive to have more information than you need. Just ask a librarian. Start your game by allowing only the core rulebook for the players. More experienced players may scoff and give you some sass for this, but this is your game, and you run it as you please.
2. Grow with the players. As the players grow, and characters live and pass (as they tend to do in a good adventure), slowly grow the source materials in which they are allowed to draw. We feel that this cultivates a true "win-win" situation for both new and experienced players. Compromise is best when resolving issues between players.
3. It's best to understand. Rather than force your will on others (which we are almost always against), clearly and concisely explain what the decisions are and stick with it. However, don't thumb your nose at logic and reason. These are your friends and deserve your respect and consideration. If someone comes up with a good reason to play as something out of a different book, take a closer look and make a decision after getting the facts. Starting a new game should be neither tedious nor heart-breaking.
*Bonus XP: Always be on the lookout for players' ingenuity! If a player has access to a phone app that has a full spell listing for your game, then more power to them! Let them use that. If they use their tablet computer to store their books on .pdf files, then that makes the GM's job all that much easier. These are some great "win-win" scenarios that can make a new player feel more efficient and adapt to a new game with ease.
Gamer Forger Listener Email:
Comments: I apologize beforehand if this question has been asked before, I was not able to find one, except this, which may be related: Dealing with players who try to run from everything?. Also I'd like to note that english is not my native tongue, so please be gentle.
I have a player in my group which tends to approach local authorities (may it be guards or churches) when facing a threat. He thinks that, given his role (a bard in a medieval world, so, more or a less, a civilian), this is what one of his kind would do in such situations. The other characters, more powerful (knight, ranger, sorcerer, ...), are the passive kind of players and do not prevent him from doing that.
While this behavior is not unjustified, the whole point of playing the game is to solve problems on your own (IMHO), even if they seem to be overwhelming. Sometimes it is justified, but most of the time it makes things only more complicated in terms of:
•The storyline, like the one time they faced a single undead raised by a curse in a city at night, where he handed over the ring which has caused the curse to the local temple, instead of trying to find out about the origins of the curse and how to break it. As soon they have found out that the curse has not been broken and it only affects a certain party member, the required ring was out of reach ... ooops, now they are in trouble (including the storyline).
•The threat level, because the encounters have to be extended, so that they are a threat to a group of adventures AND a bunch of guardsmen. One time the same player in another group abandoned the whole group for a 14 days travel to contact a befriended inquisitor about a serious evil thread to get the support of a bunch of knights.
The examples above are presented in a more superficial way than they actually are. The true story behind is way more complicated, including aspects of personal motivation.
I could tell the player to stop doing that, but I'd prefer to solve the issue in the game, without overstretching means like:
•Authorities are too ignorant/busy/incompetent to care (which in the long run will seem like all authorities in the world are essentially only decoration)
•The adventure is happening in a "closed" environment like extreme wilderness, a ship on the ocean, an area locked because of a plague etc.
What can I do ? How do you deal with such behavior ?
Gamer Forger Response:
This one was a long question, but we got your solution in one neat, tidy packet! Your party needs a spoony bard, and here's some good reasons why you should keep doing it. But being a bard ain't easy. When it comes to really confusing situations with your bardy-bard, DCR says:
1. Bards aren't really fighters, anyway. Not fighting is just as legit as getting your hands dirty. Indeed, the concept of "bard" was never intended to be a heavy damage dealer. They were meant to supplement the others in their duties and function as spokesman for the party. Playing a coward is just as valid as playing a fearless barbarian. There's no need to encounter the pressure of others to behave as they do. Other players should worry about how they play, not how others do.
2. You've encountered the consequences of your actions, now you get to deal with it. Not much else to say about that. Running away is just as good, but there's still consequences. No matter what you do, this will always be the case. Ain't no running away from your fate.
3. Talking is your job. If you're not feeling up to snuff keeping up with the "tanks" and "casters", maybe "bard" isn't the right choice for you. Nothing wrong with that. The classes were created to have distinct strengths and were meant to played to those strengths. Frankly, it's best and easiest to say that it's time to consider trying a different character class. There's no shame in realizing you may be wrong. Just remember to handle that gracefully, please. Firebird suggests that you ask "What do I want to play today?" Think of how you like to do things.
*Bonus XP: When running and/or playing any tabletop RPG: Everything is a variable. Never count on players behaving a certain way. Never count on a GM to behave a certain way. You may no always be comfortable being outclassed or overmatched, but you must be okay with the circle of life. Just because you see a mountain, doesn't necessarily mean you have to be the one who climbs it. Its just a mountain.
Remember to listen to the complete Gamer Forge segment each week during the "live" broadcast from Epic Puzzles and Games in West Valley City, Utah every Monday from 6-8 pm MST. If you have issues or questions in your game, contact DCR to help level up your game at email@example.com!
Size totally does matter! Not that way. Get your minds out of the gutter. This week, we tackled the conundrum of "just how many players does it take to run a game?". Not as easy a question as you'd think. When it comes to getting the proportions right, DCR says:
1. Balance. The scope and magnitude of your adventures should be proportionate to the size of the group. Don't make the mistake of coming up with an epic-sized adventure before you find out that only three players will be attending. Sort out exactly how many will be playing before you lay the ground work for the stories. Small groups can be overwhelmed by the scope of the events unfolding around them. Likewise, large groups can be bored to tears if the scope is too small. Also, especially for smaller groups of 2 to 4, focus your storytelling on the character and how the develop over the long term rather than a string of events climaxing in a grand battle. On the other end of the spectrum: players, don't worry about whether or not your party has a "healer" or "tank" until after the players have been established. The idea is to not limit your choices. But truly, a party can be comprised of any mixture of archetypes and be successful so long as your DM/GM/storyteller/referee/whatever can manage who is doing what in the group. Fights are always exciting when driving a story forward.
2. Groups can be rather large, but we say six to eight people is pretty darn large for a group. Any more than that, and you risk losing players' agendas in the mix. Nobody likes putting effort into creating a fun backstory and then it gets ignored. BOO FOR THAT! If whomever is running your game is comfortable with ten or more, then who are we to argue. But just because you know 20 gamers, doesn't mean you have to have 20 people in your game. Factor in you preferred mode of storytelling when deciding who to invite. Remember players: you are not obligated to participate in a game if you feel uncomfortable with the number of players. Exercise your freedom if you don't want to be in a large group. Gaming is not a chore, nor is it an iron-clad commitment. It is just a game.
3. When running for four or more people, keep in mind that more doesn't necessarily mean merrier. Whatever happens, keep the action moving! Experienced players should be leading by example and know what spells they have at the ready and what sorts of abilities they have at their disposal so that when prompted, they can resolve their attacks or actions quickly and efficiently. Experienced players who are indecisive or constantly look up stats or abilities in books, or in other ways stall the action should be passed over and allowed to resolve their actions at a later time. Adventure waits for no adventurer! We're pretty sure that Sauron didn't wait for Frodo and company to look up what they wanted to multiclass into when they gained enough XP.
Bonus XP: For even the smallest groups, splitting thing up to keep the plot moving is perfectly acceptable. Safety isn't always in numbers. Proper teamwork can overcome almost any problem. This also promotes inter-party relations and builds a higher sense of cohesion. Even the most epic characters in literature aren't powerful because of how many attacks they have. They become epic because of what they learn from the people they know. In the end, it doesn't matter how many players are participating, just that they are participating and having fun; the ultimate goal of any good game.
This week, DCR takes a look at playing with large, powerful, and oversized weapons. When it comes to pulling out the "big guns", DCR says:
1. If your game's setting allows for ridiculous sizes, then don't fight it. If your game has anime, action movie, or comic book inspired themes, let your players have those large weapons without fuss. These settings have large weapons all over in their episodes and issues, and it doesn't make any sense to deny players access to them, especially when it heightens enjoyment of the game. As always, players should at least have a reason why their knight has an oversized great sword, or their power armor should have a giant cannon mounted on it's back. It's just extra flavor and builds connection to the character they play.
2. Speed it up! If your game DOES have huge cannons and massive damages, don't slog your game by rolling more dice. Roll less whenever possible. Figure out a system of multipliers when more than three dice are involved. (example: 3d6x10, or 1d8x4). Yes, its funny to think that your character's laser sword does 60d10 damage with each successful hit. But when it comes to keeping the pace of your game exciting, that's a sure fire way to kill the mood. To establish the devastating power of the weapon, try NOT rolling dice. Have that giant gun just vaporize its target (with good description, of course) if you feel it does that kind of damage anyway. This will build a sense of just what the character has in his/her hands, and create some great dramatic moments for your story.
3. It works both ways. If the characters get big guns, then so do your enemies. Surprise the player characters by having them face an opponent with equal firepower. If the players have a warship equipped with ballistas, then have them face another ship with some ballistas. This establishes the scale within which they work. It's not about keeping them low on the food chain, it's about keeping the food chain moving so they don't become complacent at the top. This also helps prevent the game from becoming unbalanced on one side because the players shouldn't need to feel overwhelmed or underwhelmed by their opposition. If the players want a big scale battle, then facilitate that.
Bonus XP: Macross, Voltron, and Invader ZIM are fine examples of television shows that feature oversized weapons. Final Fantasy VII, Wild Arms, and Front Mission are great video games to explore themes featuring large guns and large-scale warfare. The Iron Man, Hellboy, and any title featuring the character Lobo are excellent comics for researching giant weapons and big explosions.
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The Gamer Forge
Where Players & Game Masters can come for valuable information to level up your game!