Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Of the Tabletop, and other, lesser varieties.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby thecommabandit » Sun Dec 20, 2009 2:28 pm UTC

I wouldn't mind joining in (bagsie wizard!) but I'm in a European timezone so... it might not be convenient. In which case I won't bother.

EDIT: I'd like to clarify that I meant if the timezones are inconvenient, I won't play.
Last edited by thecommabandit on Mon Dec 21, 2009 11:49 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Xanthir » Sun Dec 20, 2009 2:56 pm UTC

bigglesworth wrote:Those are not necessary over google wave.

Indeed, and I certainly will not be using any such implements. Wave should make it pretty easy to do real-time interaction.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Azrael001 » Mon Dec 21, 2009 6:20 am UTC

I'd like to be in, but I don't know when I'll be available, and won't till early-mid January.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Dec 21, 2009 2:31 pm UTC

TaintedDeity wrote:Also, a class that breaks the 4th wall would be rather amusing...

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Decker » Mon Dec 21, 2009 3:25 pm UTC

Klapaucius wrote:Hypothetical question:

Let's say that a kobold steals a minor artifact which is designed to open a portal into the Elemental Plane of Fire. Now let's say that a gang of PCs has taken the artifact back, but weren't clever enough to investigate whether it had been used or not. And as a result, there is an efreet in the middle of a kobold settlement, with no way home, plenty of time to kill, and a group of extremely clever little bastards who now serve a being that can grant 3 wishes a day.

What happens next?

For what it's worth, I would do it the other way around. Make the efreet serve the kobolds. I'm sure you could come up with a good reason for why this would happen.
The effect of the little bastards using up wishes could be quite amusing in a horrifying way. Like giving a monkey a loaded handgun.

If you want to keep it the original way, I would tie the minor artifact into the efreet's plans somehow. Either he wants to use it to make a more portals or it has some other use to him. If it can open up portals to the Plane of Fire, it might have a specific use to beings from that plane.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby heavymeds » Mon Dec 21, 2009 4:54 pm UTC

alright so a list interest people
Spoiler:
Heavymeds(EST)
Levi(EST)
Xanthir(CST)
Sir_Elderbrry(?)
Azrael001(?)(EST)
thecommabandit(?)(GMT)

I suppose knowing people timezones would be useful for coordinating this, so if your interested, post your time zone
Last edited by heavymeds on Tue Dec 22, 2009 3:19 am UTC, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Azrael001 » Mon Dec 21, 2009 5:07 pm UTC

EST
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Xanthir » Mon Dec 21, 2009 8:37 pm UTC

CST (GMT-6)
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby thecommabandit » Mon Dec 21, 2009 8:48 pm UTC

I'm on GMT.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Yakk » Mon Dec 21, 2009 11:07 pm UTC

Random thought: 4e skill challenges are "Rocks Fall, now everyone be Awesome".
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby BoomFrog » Tue Dec 22, 2009 1:10 am UTC

Really? I've still never seen a skill challenge that was very fun. I still have encounters that must be solved with skill checks, but I've thrown out the whole skill challenge structure. Everyone acting one by one in initiative order? Success from any skill is equally valuable? The whole thing needs to be reworked generally.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Xanthir » Tue Dec 22, 2009 5:24 am UTC

4e skill challenges, as written in the DMG, were admitted to be bad by the 4e devs. I'm not really sure what the hell happened; they basically said "Yeah, we're not sure why those crappy rules are in there, we had better rules before we finished the book, and play with some even better ones now in our personal games."

Skill challenges can totally be fun, as long as you stay away from them as written. Check out how the 4e devs are running them in the play journals on the wotc site, or how other people have redone them on forums and such.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby heavymeds » Tue Dec 22, 2009 4:58 pm UTC

Xanthir, since neither Levi or I have run a DnD game before, would you like to be the DM? also, if your interested I'll need to know your wave addresses, so i can add you to the wave

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Yakk » Tue Dec 22, 2009 5:00 pm UTC

The problem requires Y units of solution. Every failure generates 1 unit of (in-game) punishment.

Players invent ways to solve the problem involving skills or powers or whatever. DCs are appropriate for a problem that is challenging to a level X adventurer (if it was much easier, we wouldn't be rolling dice: if it was much harder, we wouldn't be rolling dice).

If a player wants to sneak into the dragon's den, they make a stealth check. How much does this progress 'stealing the ring from the dragon'? 1 unit's worth by default, modified by what the player narrates as what they are trying to do (if they try something really awesome and challenging, it might be 3 units of success on success, double-failure on failure, and a hard DC). Further obstacles exist: if the problem could be solved with one skill check, it wouldn't be a challenge. If the problem could be solved by a single player, it isn't a serious challenge, and it should just be "roll a skill check".

So you ask what the other players are doing. If they don't contribute, well, failure is always an option for the player characters -- and one character can no longer solve a real skill challenge than one character can defeat a challenging combat encounter.

Once the player has said "I'm sneaking past the guards", they are presumed to be sneaky. Unless they invent a new way to be sneaky that is sufficiently awesome, when they ask "I sneak more" you say "sure, you are sneaky. What else are you doing to solve the problem?"

The success/failure count is an attempt to pace the skill challenge. The question "how big of an impact should a single stealth check have" is determined by the success/failure count mechanics.

With a single stealth check, can you sneak an entire group of 5 characters past the dragon's snout, pick up the treasure, and flee out? Well, maybe! Doing that at level 1 for an ancient dragon isn't very appropriate!

With a single stealth check, can you move more than 30'? Maybe! Having to roll a stealth check every 30', repeatedly, is rather boring in certain scales of challenge.

It depends on what scale the current skill challenge is occurring on (note that higher scales should generally occur at higher levels: imagine a skill challenge for epic characters, where a single skill check covers doing that to a dragon. Failure doesn't always mean you are caught, but rather means complications ensue...)
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Xanthir » Tue Dec 22, 2009 6:44 pm UTC

Excellent summary, Yakk, and pretty much exactly how I run them. Note as well the implied notion that the subject of the challenge should be a *task*, not an *obstacle*. "Sneak past the dragon" is an obstacle - you sneak, and that's about it. Maybe do some stuff that helps sneaking. Boring. "Escape from the dragon's cave" is a task. You can sneak, you can fight, you can explore, you can do lots of things. Similarly, "steal the ring from the dragon's horde and escape with it" is a task (a larger one, obviously).

I had a skill challenge in a recent game where the players were trying to explore an abandoned prison and met with the ghosts of the prison guards, who were still trying to do their job. The task was "get into the prison". My players chose to do some research on the prison and forge a certificate saying one of them was a medical doctor, using the appropriate seals and such for the time period that the ghosts came from, then bluff the rest of the group in as being assistants. It was pretty cool!
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Yakk » Tue Dec 22, 2009 7:11 pm UTC

The 4e skill challenge in DMG1 as written are basically a really crappy version of what I said above, with an attempt to codify it.

You could easily see a really nice, free-form description, codified, edited, reedited, recodified, deadline pressure mounting, simplified, codified, edited, recodified ... and then published like that crap.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Wed Dec 23, 2009 3:52 pm UTC

One approach I've seen to skill challenges that seems to work well is to progress them in scenes. At one point we had to escape from a city that was undergoing a...um...magicquake. There would be an obstacle, we'd get past it, and that repeated about four times. So first you had to get across a collapsing bridge, avoid some chaos motes, find a cave, navigate the tunnels, etc.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby illway » Fri Dec 25, 2009 5:26 pm UTC

I've never played D&D but I'm really interested in getting some friends together and giving it a go. What do I need to get started? Also, what's the minimum and maximum number of people that can play?

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Fri Dec 25, 2009 5:48 pm UTC

illway wrote:I've never played D&D but I'm really interested in getting some friends together and giving it a go. What do I need to get started? Also, what's the minimum and maximum number of people that can play?

To play Fourth Edition D&D, I'd recommend purchasing:
-Player's Handbook (basic rules)
-Dungeon Master's Guide (more in-depth rules for running encounters/adventures)
-Monster Manual (because you have to fight something) [These three books make up "core"]
-Some form of grid. There's grid paper, but I've always played with a "game mat" or "battle mat" that's available at most game stores. Wet-erase markers are also recommended.
-Miniatures. Now, if you go by a gaming store, you'll see lots of "realistic" miniatures--Real plastic statues of orcs! In reality, you can use almost anything: coins, chips, markers, pieces of paper, lego men...
-Dice. Multiple dice. A set of seven dice is like three dollars. Buy as many as you want.

Now, I recognize that this seems like quite an investment at this point. That's probably a good...eh...$80 in stuff, depending on the exact varieties of miniatures/dice, where you buy, etc. However, do remember that your friends are presumably in on this too, and you may as well bear the burden equally. You might also see if you can find someone to lend you as many items/books as you can for your first few sessions, to make sure the money isn't wasted.

Judging by the way RPGA play goes, they expect parties to be 4-6 people + A DM, but that's malleable.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby InfamousAnarchist » Sat Dec 26, 2009 7:55 pm UTC

heavymeds wrote:Xanthir, since neither Levi or I have run a DnD game before, would you like to be the DM? also, if your interested I'll need to know your wave addresses, so i can add you to the wave


Could I, like, spectate? I've tried to run several games that all fell flat before they had begun.

I'd like to see it done well.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Xanthir » Sun Dec 27, 2009 2:53 pm UTC

I wouldn't particularly *like* to be the DM, but I'll do it if we can rotate. I at least know my way around PbP-style games, so I know that I can put together a pretty short module and have it run for some time due to increased characterization and roleplaying that usually happens when you use text rather than voice.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Klapaucius » Tue Jan 05, 2010 6:01 pm UTC

Decker wrote:
Klapaucius wrote:Hypothetical question:

Let's say that a kobold steals a minor artifact which is designed to open a portal into the Elemental Plane of Fire. Now let's say that a gang of PCs has taken the artifact back, but weren't clever enough to investigate whether it had been used or not. And as a result, there is an efreet in the middle of a kobold settlement, with no way home, plenty of time to kill, and a group of extremely clever little bastards who now serve a being that can grant 3 wishes a day.

What happens next?

For what it's worth, I would do it the other way around. Make the efreet serve the kobolds. I'm sure you could come up with a good reason for why this would happen.
The effect of the little bastards using up wishes could be quite amusing in a horrifying way. Like giving a monkey a loaded handgun.

If you want to keep it the original way, I would tie the minor artifact into the efreet's plans somehow. Either he wants to use it to make a more portals or it has some other use to him. If it can open up portals to the Plane of Fire, it might have a specific use to beings from that plane.


My reasoning was that the efreet would make a bargain with the kobolds: as the kobold's occupation is filling the hoard of a red dragon, he exchanges their loyalty and a large cut of what goes to the dragon's hoard (as well as keeping his presence unknown to said dragon) for one wish per kobold, starting with the highest-ranking kobs and going down to the miners (who, because of the expendability of those kobold warriors, combined with the bureaucracy of kobold society, will probably never get their wishes.)

The session with the first part of that plan (getting the artifact back) happened this weekend, and it was so much better than my first time as DM. The players had apparently never experienced traps before (at least, not a dungeon built around them), as the player who normally uses a rogue decided (despite my warnings) to be a paladin instead, meaning that when the players realized they needed a trap-disabler, the task was left to the person with the highest HP--which was of course the paladin.

They made mistake after mistake. There was a door with three different handles (designed so that the user would have to insert his entire hand into the door), so the druid just stuck both his hands into two of them. There were stairs, but they were steep koboldish stairs, so the players just went ahead and held onto the railing, conveniently placed at the height a human would need to hold on. This triggered the cliched (but effective) stair-slide, which caused the players to panic. Fortunately, a couple made the Dexterity check required to grab onto the second, much lower railing, which caused the slide to drop away completely, funneling them into a spike pit, which just happened to contain several dire weasels at the bottom. The ladder out was trapped (the third rung had a blade in it) but this was just a nuisance to distract them from the fact that the lever that said "DO NOT PULL" in Draconic should, in fact, not be pulled. After about ten minutes of intense debate, someone finally pulled it, and it dropped a cage at the end of the hallway containing a dire boar, which charged at the four players in the cramped hallway, sending them back into the spike pit.
And that was just the first two floors.

Anyway, it was a beautiful exercise in psychological warfare, and the moral of the story is that the most potent weapon in a DM's arsenal isn't a tarrasque, or even a vampire mindflayer blackguard with a beholder mount--it's a lever with a sign that says "DO NOT PULL" in Draconic.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby BoomFrog » Wed Jan 06, 2010 6:49 am UTC

My reasoning was that the efreet would make a bargain with the kobolds: as the kobold's occupation is filling the hoard of a red dragon, he exchanges their loyalty and a large cut of what goes to the dragon's hoard (as well as keeping his presence unknown to said dragon) for one wish per kobold, starting with the highest-ranking kobs and going down to the miners (who, because of the expendability of those kobold warriors, combined with the bureaucracy of kobold society, will probably never get their wishes.)


I don't think this would happen. Why does the effret stay on this plane and why does it want a cut of the hoard? Normally an effreet has zero interest in the material plane and just wants release from his prison. Since he generally has no way to get that he just gets some laughs by subverting wishes in punishment to his captors. But this effreet came to the plane on purpose so he obviously wants something from here. Let's assume for dramas sake that he wants X, but he made the mistake of trying to get a kobald to wish for it. Now the kobalds know what he wants and are extracting wishes from him, ever promising to wish for X soon. So the efreet is bouncing between trying to negotiate by granting some wishes, and being angry and subverting some wishes.

The kobalds wishes and subversions:
Death to all humans! - All Humans within sight of this kobald become undead that hunger for Kobald brains. They are otherwise unaffected and revert to normal outside of that kobalds view.

I wish for a million gold pieces - transported inside a locked vault. Suffocated.

I wish for you to not subvert my future wishes - mute

I wish to be as strong as a giant! - Becomes superstrong but is outcast as anyone or thing he bumps is generally shattered. Eats by biting food directly. Normal kobald hp, str bonus of a giant, so he punches for 1d4+huge

Basically, the wishes get out of hand, and the kobald society delves into anarchy. Eventually someone wishes for X so the efreet will just go away. Result: a society of mutant kobalds. Every once in a while something weird, involving a kobald should happen. The PC's go to a bar and find a tall beautiful women who talks with a squeeky kobald voice. (transformed former kobald). They are transporting a treasure and a lone kobald appears out of nowhere clutching it. (wished for the treasure to be in his hands). The PC's open a treasure vault and find a dessicated kobald corpse on top. Entertaining stuff that is usually not a threat to the PC's, but sometimes something (like the giant strength kobald) that is dangerous. If you do it right the PC's will be cautious of any kobalds they meet in the future.

(I typed goblin instead of Kobald so often I had to do a find and replace. I wish their cultures weren't so similar.)
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Vaniver » Wed Jan 06, 2010 9:03 pm UTC

This is mostly for Yakk:

Gabe's take on freeform D&D. It's a short newspost that shows how he is doing a freeform D&D adventure.

I really like the idea of giving the party physical information, particularly when it's physical information which they can add to- like an incomplete map. One of the great things about an Eberron-style game (where the tech/econ level is high enough to support newspapers/broadsheets) is being able to actually give your characters broadsheets with campaign fluff / plot hooks; it goes a lot better than telling people things and having them maybe take notes.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Yakk » Wed Jan 06, 2010 9:20 pm UTC

Neat. :-)
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Wed Jan 06, 2010 11:52 pm UTC

My group is switching to M&M soon, from D&D 4e (although some of us have 3.5 experience, easing our transition) for various reasons. I'll be DMing most of the time, and thought I'd try my hand at my own setting (all of my self-written D&D play has been one-session adventures). One of the things I thought I might try was setting the campaign in the "real world"--but modified for supers. Note that I don't just mean a standard comic book universe. For example, my group lives in and around Tulsa, OK. Adventure seeds would direct them to Tulsa landmarks (or personal landmarks). Mayor Bartlett might call them in to deal with threats.

All of it, however, is run through a filter. So, for instance, the gaming shop we all go to is on 71st and Mingo and is called Wizard's Asylum. In my campaign, then, 71st and Mingo will house a super-mental-hospital, whose first charge was in fact a wizard.

Does this sound cool/interesting, or would the realism wankery just add a lot of unappreciated work for the GM? Has anyone tried paralleling the real world to this degree?
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Azrael001 » Thu Jan 07, 2010 2:13 am UTC

I think it would be cool, but then I'm a sucker for that kind of thing.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby SecondTalon » Thu Jan 07, 2010 3:13 pm UTC

Sir_Elderberry wrote:Does this sound cool/interesting, or would the realism wankery just add a lot of unappreciated work for the GM? Has anyone tried paralleling the real world to this degree?
My group did that a few years ago. It was fun. So, yeah, I don't see anything terrible happening from it outside of people being able to visualize the areas in a more uniform manner.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Klapaucius » Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:03 pm UTC

BoomFrog wrote:
My reasoning was that the efreet would make a bargain with the kobolds: as the kobold's occupation is filling the hoard of a red dragon, he exchanges their loyalty and a large cut of what goes to the dragon's hoard (as well as keeping his presence unknown to said dragon) for one wish per kobold, starting with the highest-ranking kobs and going down to the miners (who, because of the expendability of those kobold warriors, combined with the bureaucracy of kobold society, will probably never get their wishes.)


I don't think this would happen. Why does the effret stay on this plane and why does it want a cut of the hoard? Normally an effreet has zero interest in the material plane and just wants release from his prison. Since he generally has no way to get that he just gets some laughs by subverting wishes in punishment to his captors. But this effreet came to the plane on purpose so he obviously wants something from here. Let's assume for dramas sake that he wants X, but he made the mistake of trying to get a kobald to wish for it. Now the kobalds know what he wants and are extracting wishes from him, ever promising to wish for X soon. So the efreet is bouncing between trying to negotiate by granting some wishes, and being angry and subverting some wishes.

The kobalds wishes and subversions:
Death to all humans! - All Humans within sight of this kobald become undead that hunger for Kobald brains. They are otherwise unaffected and revert to normal outside of that kobalds view.

I wish for a million gold pieces - transported inside a locked vault. Suffocated.

I wish for you to not subvert my future wishes - mute

I wish to be as strong as a giant! - Becomes superstrong but is outcast as anyone or thing he bumps is generally shattered. Eats by biting food directly. Normal kobald hp, str bonus of a giant, so he punches for 1d4+huge

Basically, the wishes get out of hand, and the kobald society delves into anarchy. Eventually someone wishes for X so the efreet will just go away. Result: a society of mutant kobalds. Every once in a while something weird, involving a kobald should happen. The PC's go to a bar and find a tall beautiful women who talks with a squeeky kobald voice. (transformed former kobald). They are transporting a treasure and a lone kobald appears out of nowhere clutching it. (wished for the treasure to be in his hands). The PC's open a treasure vault and find a dessicated kobald corpse on top. Entertaining stuff that is usually not a threat to the PC's, but sometimes something (like the giant strength kobald) that is dangerous. If you do it right the PC's will be cautious of any kobalds they meet in the future.

(I typed goblin instead of Kobald so often I had to do a find and replace. I wish their cultures weren't so similar.)
I thought efreet had a desire for material possessions, seeing as when they're in their natural environment, according to the Monster Manual, they keep hoards of gold and whatnot, and are extremely possessive of them.
An efreet that wasn't imprisoned (and could go back at any time) would just exercise its natural love of pushing someone else around for a change. Although the "wishing for X" thing is an angle I might try. I already made up stats for a vampire kobold, a dracotaur kobold, a Huge kobold, and a two-headed kobold.

An unrelated hypothetical question: Normally, extras like animal companions, summoned creatures, or mounts aren't included when figuring out the Challenge Rating. So let's say that a mindflayer blackguard used its special mount (or servant, whichever a blackguard gets) privileges to full effect and started riding a beholder. Would the CR ctill stay the same?

If so, what if the beholder got itself some class levels too? Like, maybe a beholder blackguard! Now I just have to figure out what servant it would choose...
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Yakk » Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:24 pm UTC

Finding flaws in the CR system is trivial?

The CR system is intended to help DMs find an appropriate challenge. It does a very poor job of it. If you attack it with corner cases, it does an even worse job.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Klapaucius » Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:35 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:Finding flaws in the CR system is trivial?

The CR system is intended to help DMs find an appropriate challenge. It does a very poor job of it. If you attack it with corner cases, it does an even worse job.
Hm. Does this mean I can't throw a mounted aberration pyramid at the players and expect them to accept that it's still CR 13?
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby SecondTalon » Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:56 pm UTC

CR is a rough tool, not a set-in-stone You Must Be This Tall To Ride rule. Old forum I used to frequent had a poster by the name of Power Munchkin who came up with a particular creature in a challenge using the then-current 3.0 rules. While I forget the specifics of what the challenge was, the general theme was "Break the CR System. Hard" and his Anti-Magic Troll (PMAMT is what we took to calling it) basically proved that CR could be shattered beyond recognition. The gist of the creature was a troll barbarian wielding an adamantine greatsword with a anti-magic field producing device inserted under it's sternum. The troll lived in a series of twisting tunnels, none of which were longer than 15 feet if I recall correctly.

It's CR was something like 9. It was capable of destroying just about anything thrown at it. So.. no, CR is not a be-all end-all hard and fast rule. Yes, it's been improved since then, but it's still stupidly easy to slap a couple of classes and templates on a creature that on paper only increase it's CR by 4, but in practice make it a formidable opponent for parties of 4 who are ten levels higher than it's supposed CR.

I mean, hell.. CR doesn't take environment into account, last I checked. A 2 hit die creature who can cast Grease at will is pretty damn easy out on an open field. Stick the same creature in a dark cavern and the battle on narrow ledges that drop off into a seemingly bottomless ravine? Damn thing is easily going to take out half the party.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby BoomFrog » Fri Jan 08, 2010 9:02 am UTC

Klapaucius wrote:I thought efreet had a desire for material possessions, seeing as when they're in their natural environment, according to the Monster Manual, they keep hoards of gold and whatnot, and are extremely possessive of them.
An efreet that wasn't imprisoned (and could go back at any time) would just exercise its natural love of pushing someone else around for a change.

On their home plane efreet are top dogs, they get to push others around plenty. And well, in D&D everything keeps hordes of gold and whatnot, why else would the PC's want to murder them all? When you kill a rat, a +1 broadsword will spring from it's gullet. Wait, maybe that's diablo, but still D&D is barely better. I always assumed that an efreet's treasure would be mostly art objects and stuff, things that they collected because they like them. After all, they can summon piles of gold fairly easily with a non-genie cohort to wish for them.

Wish granting's effect on the genie/efreet economy is not a subject that the developers really delve into and it doesn't bear much weight under scrutiny. But I like to imagine that they wouldn't be motivated by the desire for such common desires as riches or immortality, they already have those, so their desires should be more esoteric. Like, collecting the most pure-blooded specimen of each species. Or collecting the origonal manuscripts of their favorite poets, and one of the poets decedents as a slave to perform the poetry of course. You get the idea, I feel like efreets are the ridiculous extreme of the out of touch aristocrat who views all other lifeforms as existing only to serve him. And all of his possessions and goals are to show off to his aristocrat buddies and one up them.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Goldstein » Fri Jan 08, 2010 12:47 pm UTC

On the topic of CRs -- which is convenient, as I was going to ask this anyway -- are there any guidelines in 4e D&D for encounter groups of different levels to the PCs?

For example, a party of 5 PCs at level 3 is supposed to fight monsters of the same number and level for a moderate encounter. Would 3 level 5 monsters provide a similar challenge? What about 1 level 7 monster? I appreciate that you can't go too far with this sort of thing or its attacks and defences will overwhelm the players, but I'd like to know if there're any good suggestions for this. Yesterday I pitted my party of 3 level 1 characters against a single Cavern Choker (Level 4 Lurker) and it was a fun mini-boss battle. I'd like to do more of this because, particularly at low levels, there aren't a lot of solo creatures to pick from, or that make sense given the situation. Alternatively, would I be better off taking level-matched creatures and upgrading them to elite or solo as per the DMG?
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Yakk » Fri Jan 08, 2010 3:16 pm UTC

Goldstein wrote:On the topic of CRs -- which is convenient, as I was going to ask this anyway -- are there any guidelines in 4e D&D for encounter groups of different levels to the PCs?

For example, a party of 5 PCs at level 3 is supposed to fight monsters of the same number and level for a moderate encounter. Would 3 level 5 monsters provide a similar challenge? What about 1 level 7 monster? I appreciate that you can't go too far with this sort of thing or its attacks and defences will overwhelm the players, but I'd like to know if there're any good suggestions for this. Yesterday I pitted my party of 3 level 1 characters against a single Cavern Choker (Level 4 Lurker) and it was a fun mini-boss battle. I'd like to do more of this because, particularly at low levels, there aren't a lot of solo creatures to pick from, or that make sense given the situation. Alternatively, would I be better off taking level-matched creatures and upgrading them to elite or solo as per the DMG?

The DMG covers this relatively well. The XP budget system that is.

You add up the XP of the monsters, and you map it to the XP of a level-appropriate encounter for Y players. That is "the level of the encounter".

Creatures within +/- 3 levels of the players can be used without much care. Monsters +3 to +6 above the characters need to be used with care, especially soldiers and brutes (soldiers, because they become unhittable and always-hitting; brutes, because their damage can reach "insta-dead").

Elites and Solos are both a mechanical tool and an abstraction tool.

Solos are intended to be "complex and interesting enough" to make up most of an encounter. If you throw a high level normal monster at a party, it will go through its bag of tricks much faster than a solo, because solos have much longer bags of tricks (if well built). DMG 2 goes into improved guildlines for building solos (which where used in MM2).

Elites do two things. First, they let you throw the budget of a L+4 monster at the party, but not make nearly as much of a wiff-fest. (Or even throw a L+7 monster at the party). Second, they are intended to make a given monster feel like a compatriot or the like. As they are intended to be used in smaller chunks than normal, they also tend to be more complex than normal creatures.

The complexity matters; you want an encounter to be complex, but at the same time running 5 complex creatures at once puts lots of load on the DM. So each monster has "units of complexity" sort of; elites get a double-dose, and solos get a quintuple dose.

Ie, a level 7 creature and a level 2 elite might have the same XP budget, the level 2 elite should be more complex to run.

Constantly using "above level" creatures as bosses instead of elites/solos results in "attack bonus" feat and build choices dominating the game. They are already great choices against even level opponents; so this makes choices by players that aren't "get a really high attack bonus" seriously sub-optimal.

..

More specifically, 3 level 1 PCs have an XP budget of 300 XP.
3 level 2 PCs have an XP budget of 375 XP
" level 3 " " 450 XP
level 4 525 XP
level 5 600 XP

Level 1 monster: 100 Elite: 200 Solo: 500
level 2 monster: 125 Elite: 250 Solo: 625
level 3 monster: 150 Elite: 300 Solo: 750
level 4 monster: 175 Elite: 350 Solo: 875
level 5 monster: 200 Elite: 400 Solo: 1000
level 6 monster: 250 Elite: 500
level 7 monster: 300 Elite: 600
level 8 monster: 350 Elite: 700
level 9 monster: 400 Elite: 800

So a level 7 elite is a level 5 encounter for 3 PCs.
A level 4 lurker is less than a level 1 encounter for 3 level 1 PCs.

So I'd expect that level 4 lurker was a pushover for the PCs. Still fun, because lurkers played well can be fun, but a pushover.

Throwing above-level encounters at PCs is expected; not all encounters are supposed to be even-level. Depending on how built the PC party is, a level+2 encounter might be required to make the PCs break a sweat, or even a level+4 encounter.

(The XP curve for normal monsters is "double every 4 levels", with linear interpolation from level 1 to 5).
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Goldstein » Fri Jan 08, 2010 7:15 pm UTC

Thanks Yakk :) I remember getting the impression from somewhere that the XP value was the measure, but I couldn't find anywhere in the books that talked about how to use monsters of different levels. You make some good points about creature complexity and the larger attack and defence bonuses granted to very high level creatures. I'll try to keep these in mind when thinking about what groups of monsters to include in encounters, to make sure my 1-2 creature encounters have enough complexity to make them interesting.

You're right about the Choker being easy -- It did manage enough lurking to be fun, but it was finished off by two critical hits, making for an ever more abrupt end! -- It wasn't until after putting together the encounters that I looked at their XP values, which I now realise to be a backwards approach. On the other hand, I'm accused of being a brutal DM so I was trying to be careful not to throw anything too strong at them. Given that one of the players characters (shit, I'm not that brutal) finished the session unconscious and out of healing surges, I think it was about par for difficulty.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Yakk » Fri Jan 08, 2010 8:31 pm UTC

The XP budget system in 4e is pretty decent.

Doing a bit of reverse analysis, XP budgets are a quadratic scale -- a 200 XP encounter vs a 400 XP encounter, the 400 XP one is roughly 4 times as hard.

This works, because doubling the number of opponents in a fight also multiplies the fight difficulty by 4 (as both their offence, and their ability to soak punishment, doubles).

Monsters in 4e, with there +1 per level bonus to defences and attacks, and their roughly linear damage output, approximate an exponential difficulty curve over +/-4 levels, where after +4 levels you are 4 times harder (!).

The +1 per level contributes roughly half the power, the other half comes from the HP/Damage output increase. (+4 levels makes you 'twice as tough' without any changes to your damage output etc).

(To see how this works, take the "1 hit kill" model, and a chain of creatures on both sides. Each contest consists of d20+ATK vs Defence. A hit kills.

A +1 level boosts your ATK by +1 and your Defence by +1. So now you last .55/.5 times longer, and you kill .55/.5 times as many creatures -- or a 20% boost in effectiveness from a +1 level increase.

Graph that approximation for +/- 4 levels from a baseline. Examine the log scale graph. Isn't that pretty?)
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Goldstein » Fri Jan 08, 2010 11:22 pm UTC

I agree, which is what lead me to question this 'XP-buy' system. Looking back at the XP values for creatures, a level 5 creature is worth twice as much as a level 1 creature. If it's four times as strong, doesn't the merely double XP cost undersell it?
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Vaniver » Sat Jan 09, 2010 6:18 am UTC

Sir_Elderberry wrote:Does this sound cool/interesting, or would the realism wankery just add a lot of unappreciated work for the GM? Has anyone tried paralleling the real world to this degree?
My experience with games like this has been good; you could even have a laptop with Google Maps up, and actually use the real map. Tulsa even has the street-level view.

Goldstein wrote:I agree, which is what lead me to question this 'XP-buy' system. Looking back at the XP values for creatures, a level 5 creature is worth twice as much as a level 1 creature. If it's four times as strong, doesn't the merely double XP cost undersell it?
There are benefits to having multiple tokens on the board, and having multiple turns, which is what I imagine that corrects for. I know that in the 4e game I'm in, the DM routinely gives solos three standard actions (iirc, they're supposed to get two) and that gets them closer to being somewhat equal to the party of five people.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Sat Jan 09, 2010 3:17 pm UTC

My experience with games like this has been good; you could even have a laptop with Google Maps up, and actually use the real map. Tulsa even has the street-level view.

My Co-DM for this campaign, entirely of his own initiative, went through and took screenshots of Google's Tulsa map at the lowest zoom level and combined them into one giant JPEG. He's awesome.
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