Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Handling A Rules Dispute At The Table

 I've seen some conversations online with people wondering where the line is between bringing up a rules question and with being a rules lawyer. If you're new to the hobby this can definitely be confusing. Very few things in gaming are as loathed and despised as the dreaded 'rules lawyer' player. it is probably the most despised player type that is at least somewhat acceptable to have at the table. At the same time, gaming is also rife with stories of GMs causing players harm and decreasing the fun at the table through bad rulings that seem aimed to make the players lose even when the rules indicate otherwise.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Moving Fights Around

This is less advice and more thinking through a problem. Just some quick thoughts (a rant or ramble if you will. If you have ideas on this, please share. I'd love to have a discussion on it.)

 One of the things that happens in table top RPG fights is that the combat itself tends to be static. The crunchier or more tactical the RPG, the less likely you are to get characters to move. This can lead to two characters not moving at all once they get into range of each other, as instead they just trade blows and see who can deplete the HP of the others first.

This isn't a problem for the most part, but it can cause one. Static combats can quickly just become math and dice rolls. Which in turn can become completely mechanical and depending on your players that can make it more boring than exciting.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Discussion: Your Favorite Quick Adventure

 I find GMs often have a very quick adventure. Something they can run at a moment's notice, almost regardless of system or genre. Sometimes there are limitations on that, but often they can be twisted or coopted to do what needs to be done in the event you need it.

Do you have an adventure like that? If so, how does it work?

Amusingly enough, my absolute favorite quick adventure is pretty set for the Super Hero genre, but you can make it work elsewhere. It's actually a book adventure and came in Palladium's "Heroes Unlimited" Revised Edition. The mission in question being: The Mall of Terror.

The Mall of Terror is a simple setup, a local shopping mall has some super villains taking it over. The super villains have hostages inside. They've made exorbitant demands of the city. And the PCs (the heroes) have to find a way to stop the villains and save the hostages.

What I love about the mission is it is endlessly repeatable because who the villains are changes the challenges in the mall and how the mall is set up to be defended against heroes.

What I also love about the mission - though maybe less so these days - is you can use it to quickly get people into the scenario because you can use whatever mall you want. Have a local mall? Use that. Now your players know what you are talking about when you point out which shop or which area. They can easily imagine where they are, and you can run with that. 

This also makes it a good introductory mission for new players because since you are using a landmark from the area, they don't have to strain as much imagining things. And since they know the area, they can also be creative in applying things. I more often get an attempt at creative solutions when the player - especially a new player - doesn't have to build what I'm describing but can just recall from memory.

What about you? What is yours? How does it work?

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

A Monster Can Be The Whole Adventure

 If you didn't know, over the past weekend Dungeons & Dragons had an online convention of sorts complete with some panels and live games. Two of the panels I found particularly cool. First was this one, with a bunch of real life bards talking about what it means to be a bard that just gives a lot of insight in ways to play a bard and why being a bard can be such a powerful identity for some people. Second was this one, with the fine folks from Asians Represent talking about how to include Asian stories in your game without stepping on harmful stereotypes.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Let's Build A Dungeon! - Part 9 - The Basement Map Populated

We started building a dungeon. And today we're finally adding monsters to the third and final floor of that dungeon (though technically this is the 'middle' level!) In the interest of brevity, I'll keep this focused on the map itself. This is the 'basement' map for the dungeon we made, the transition point between the surface and subterranean entrances. As per the story of the dungeon the stronghold fell to invaders, but that was in the past. Now it is home for monsters.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Let's Build a Dungeon! - Part 8 - The Underground Entrance Populated

We started building a dungeon. And today we're finally adding monsters to that dungeon. In the interest of brevity, I'll keep this focused on the map itself. This is the underground entrance map for the dungeon we made, one of two entrances and transition points between the surface and below ground caves. As per the story of the dungeon the stronghold fell to invaders, but that was in the past. Now it is home for monsters.

Expected Level
In the interest of usability I figured making the dungeon with Level 2 PCs in mind would be a good idea. They can stumble across this early in their adventure - or be hired to check it out. It keeps the monsters manageable, but the PCs should already have their first adventure behind them.

For encounters I expected 4 PCs, but I've included the ratio of Monster:PCs for a Level 2 PC in the monster list. If you have more PCs, feel free to add another group of monsters here and there. Just remember, not every encounter needs to be deadly. 

The Monsters
For monsters I made a simple list. In the interest of Social Play there are some humanoids, but in the interest of the feel of a more classic dungeon with actual monsters I kept them restricted to the indoor areas of the dungeon. Outside we have monstrosities, because I wanted monsters.

For our monster list we have the following:

  • Kruthik – CR 1/8 (3:1 for Level 2 PCs)
  • Kobold – CR 1/8 (3:1 for Level 2 PCs)
  • Kobold Inventor – CR ¼ (2:1 for Level 2 PCs)
  • Reduced Threat Gray Ooze – CR ¼ (2:1 for Level 2 PCs)
  • Gray Ooze - CR 1/2 (1:1 for Level 2 PCs)
  • Dark Mantle – CR ½ (1;1 for Level 2 PCs)
  • Kobold Dragonshield - CR 1 (1:3 for Level 2 PCs)
  • Kobold Scale Sorcerer – CR 1 (1:3 for Level 2 PCs)
  • Adult Kruthik – CR 2 (1:6 for Level 2 PCs)

For the ratios for other levels of PCs check the tables in Xanathar's Guide to Everything. I know I said I expected 4 level 2 PCs, and Bandit Captain says it is good for 6 Level 2 PCs, but a CR2 is also the recommended 'Solo Boss' encounter for 4 level 2 PCs. The Captain is our Boss for this level.


Pure Function
As a note, I did not do any description or story for this. You can add your own descriptions and story as fits your game. Story can be important, but this is a re-usable dungeon and having the story before the build here (aside from the dungeon origin) just feels like a way to lock in things that we want to be mutable.

The Map - Now With Markings


The Key

  1. This section of the caves has four (4) Dark Mantles posed as stalagmites waiting for food to wanter by. When the PCs come within 5' of them, they will attack and try to get food. Dark Mantles are stupid (int 2) but know how to get food, so use your best call on whether they wait for more than 1 person to be close or not before attacking.
  2. Ten (10) Kruthiks scurry about around here, digging in the rocks looking for warmth and food. PCs by definition are warm and food. Happy day!
  3. A single (1) Adult Kruthik guards the pool of warm spring water used for spawning.
  4. These open court yards have little in the way of obstruction. At any time you can find any combination of two (2) of the following: 1d8 Kruthiks, 1d8 Kobolds, 1 Gray Ooze, 1d4 Reduced Threat Gray Ooze, 1 Kobold Scale Sorcerer

A. One (1) Dragonshield Kobold and three (3) Kobolds sit in this room.

B. One (1) Kobold Scale Sorcerer and two (2) Kobold Inventors work in this room on strange concoctions and brews

C. Two (2) Kobold Dragonshields guard the stairs up into the rest of the dungeon

D. 1d6 Kobolds are asleep in this room at any one time.

E. Four (4) Kobolds, Two (2) Kobold Inventors, and a Kobold Scale Sorcerer sit in this hatchery

F. 1d6 Kobolds keep 1d4 Kruthiks locked in F as a source of food?


Monday, September 14, 2020

Let's Build A Dungeon! - Part 7 - The Surface Map Populated

 We started building a dungeon. And today we're finally adding monsters to that dungeon. In the interest of brevity, I'll keep this focused on the map itself. This is the surface map for the dungeon we made, one of two entrances and transition points between the surface and below ground caves. As per the story of the dungeon the stronghold fell to invaders, but that was in the past. Now it is home for monsters.