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Dungeons and/or Dragons

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
Last night we leveled up to level five, then got into a random fight on the way back into town. It was pretty much just a hangout session, but it was nice to get to do one fight at level five before going back to DMing.

On my first attack I used Scorching Ray and critted on the very first ray. Since Artillerists get to add an extra d8 to one roll, and the crit doubles all dice, I rolled 4d6+2d8 and did 30 damage, killing the monster. The DM saw that I still had two more rays left and just immediately added two more enemies to the battle. It was just luck, but it made for a funny moment.

I have some good plans for next week. The other DM introduced some good new areas and characters, so I’m interested in where the players take things from here.
 

Droewyn

Smol Monster
(She/her, they/them)
My group is on 4pm Sundays now, I remember it didn't work for you when we were doing it evenings or Saturdays. You're always welcome to join.
Oooh, I'd love to. Is it okay if I'm a total beginner?
 

Destil

DestilG
(he/him)
Staff member
Artificer crits get things done.

Battlesmith with a musket, 2d12 + 16 (with sharpshooter) checking in.
 

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
I was back in the DMs seat last night, and we had a great session. The party arrived back at the starting town and I sent my character off with some NPCs to find a way through a magical barrier. The party finally headed to fight the local tough guy, but on the way they ran into some drunks who charmed and distracted them. Then, the guy they were headed toward ambushed them & called in his Perytons. The Barbarian recognized some of the goons that the enemy had hired, so he was able to direct the party about which ones to take out first. I think I knocked a couple of party members unconscious, but they did well overall.

Then, they decided to go free some prisoners from the local Dwarf HQ. they scouted out the camp from above (flying Tiefling + invisibility from the Warlock) and spent like half an hour arguing about how to approach it. They snded up having the Tiefling fly a goblin over a wall & had everyone else scale to a balcony so they could trap some guards in a hall (on the left side of this map). One guard got away & alerted the camp, so the rest of the session was a massive combat. They got through by the skin of their teeth & we ended there.

There are lots of options on where to go from here. I think they will need to clear out a few remaining Dwarves around town, but they’ve pretty much taken care of their forces in this region. There are two bigger Dwarf camps in the West and a bunch of other things going on on the map. And I’m sure the other Dwarves will retaliate, but I think they’ve earned a breather.

Next session we’ll decide what happens to the town & where they’ll go next. And, I’m going to have a flying island show up on the horizon. Those are always fun.
 

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
I think one of my favorite interactions I've had recently was a few weeks back when my Druid player, who has a ring of plant speech, was questioning a bush. I was already having fun playing the bush, when one of our players pointed out that only the Druid could hear what I was saying. That gave me a flash of inspiration, because we play on Discord - so I had all my other players except the druid mute me, so they could properly hear only half the conversation. Everyone agreed it was an extremely good idea - they still got to watch me on camera gesticulating and overacting; I had fun playing up aspects that would make listening to the other side of the conversation weird and funny; and Flora did well repeating the salient points in a natural way and keeping up her half of the conversation and entertaining the other players.

I've always kind of wanted to do this, and have done limited amounts of it before - the DM talks to one player while the others go off to get drinks, and roll20 and Discord always offer whispers for the DM and player to communicate in secret. But realizing there were individual player mutes and things like that opened a whole new avenue of real-time limited communication to play with, and I really liked it. Gotta keep an eye out for further ways to capitalize on that.

Anyone else had fun doing stuff like that, or any good ideas that spring to mind?
 

clarice

bebadosamba
Ooo, that's fun. I'm going to copy that, haha. We only use voice, though, so i'm not sure it's going to be the same.

In my last campaign, the DM gave us a situation where a) everyone wanted the macguffin for different (and sometimes opposite!) reasons and b) we had to cooperate with each other or we wouldn't get out alive. Nobody knew the story of the other characters, either. We backstabbed each other a lot - alliances were made and then broken, etc, haha. Every session the macguffin was with a different person. It was fun having the players narrate their actions and haven't the slighest clue why they were doing that - it was fun discovering the story of the other characters little by little.

We just used whatsapp and the DM whisper in roll20 to communicate secretly, though. And yes, eventually the objectives converged and everyone was... friends. Almost. Haha. We also played in Innistrad.

Right now - well, i'm lazy and i didn't read the RPGs books i wanted to start playing something different - i'm DMing Ghosts of Saltmarsh. The first adventure and the town are tons of fun, but i'm not sure how i'm going to tie everything together. And the dungeons are long. I'm going to give clues to the players so we can get by faster.
 

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
I ran the Isle of the Abbey as a one-shot a few months back. It was a fun little adventure.

Paul - that sounds like a fun time. I'll keep it in mind if a similar situation arises.


I feel like I'm getting better at planning sessions on the fly. I came up with a bare bones outline for last night's session earlier in the week, and drew a map in about 20 minutes before the session started, and everything went really well.

The party was seeking out a priest to help calm down rampaging Earth Elementals. Last session one of the players took over DMing and ran a little adventure on the road, and this week I had them arrive at a location where they might be able to find a priest.

On the way they started noticing random stone walls all over the place. They were created haphazardly and seemed to be getting denser to the south. Keeping to the path, they arrived at a river crossing, where the bridge had been burned down, but then replaced with a stone bridge. Finally, they arrived at the settlement, a small town around the Hobgoblin Academy of Devastation. In town they found 1) a few statues of hobgoblins in odd places, 2) the academy entrances blocked with stone doors with runes on them, and 3) Hobgoblins that were unable to speak within 300 feet of the academy. After doing a bit of research and talking to a Hobgoblin at a distance from the town they discovered that this is all the work of the Dwarves, who have another large camp nearby. The stone walls were remnants of the war, Dwarves had magically created them as cover as they approached and retreated from the Academy Wizards. They finally got the upper hand when they started creating areas where Hobgoblins were unable to cast spells (the party doesn't know, but it's a variation on the Hallow spell). And, they have a staff of petrification they they used on a few powerful wizards and the local Knowledge Cleric. The current residents of the town are either very young or old, and can't cast spells in town or near Dwarf settlements.

At this point, the party was itching to storm the Academy (which is occupied by Dwarves, who are able to bypass the stone doors at will). But, the Hobgoblin who they talked to, and old lady named Log, convinced them to take a stealthier method. There is a place in the nearby mountains that Hobgoblin children would dare each other to visit; a gallery of stone statues. It's obvious that they are actually adventurers and creatures that had been turned to stone. She doesn't know what type of creature did it, but it's well known that the blood of a creature that causes petrification can be used to cure petrification. They left my character, the Artificer, to try to find a way to open the back entrance of the Academy while they went off to the mountains with Log to kill this mystery creature.

On the way into the mountains they found some areas where the earth had been torn up, and shortly after they were attacked by a pair of Bulettes (very fun to run as a DM). They found the statue gallery, and the Ranger was able to get the party from there to the creature's cave, even though they had covered their tracks. We stopped right in front of the cave entrance, and we're going to pick up there next week. I have a great map for the cave, and ones for the lower levels and upper levels of the Academy. They are really curious about what the creature is (it's a pair of Medusas. Their strategy is to try to have one sneak up behind the party, so that if they look away they get petrified by the other one), and what is inside the Academy (lots of Dwarves, a stone defender, and a few aberrations in the basement).

For the first time this campaign the party is 100% on board with following my hooks, and they actually like Log. I think it's because she's a jerk to them, and also came up with a better plan then they did so she seems competent.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
I love the DM whisper feature in roll20. The downside for me is that, with one of my groups, we have at least one mic failure in roll20, usually within 10 minutes of starting the game, then we all have to move to discord. Oftentimes I've had the mics fail as a result of using the whisper function. But when it works, it's awesome!
 

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
"There's a huge door."
OK, I roll to push it open.
"It doesn't budge!"
...
...
...OK, um, I get someone else to help and we push it again. rolls with advantage, high enough
"It opens!

(Another door)
We push together! fails advantage roll.
"It doesn't open."
repeat several times until the door opens.


This shit drives me nuts.
 

Mightyblue

aggro table, shmaggro table
(He/Him/His)
Unless the door's locked/barred or there's some kind of time constraint, why is your DM making your party roll for mundane stuff like that? Sure, fluff it up a bit to build tension/etc, but that doesn't require a roll either.
 

aturtledoesbite

earthquake ace
(any/all)
The answer is typically 'poor critical thinking on the GM's part'; they have an obstacle, they have a skill check for the obstacle. They do not stop to consider whether that obstacle is meaningful.
 

Olli

(he/him)
Wasn't it so that if a task is not superhumanly difficult (like pushing a heavy door open), you can just spend some time to get it done, instead of rolling a success and getting it done immediately?
 

clarice

bebadosamba
Wasn't it so that if a task is not superhumanly difficult (like pushing a heavy door open), you can just spend some time to get it done, instead of rolling a success and getting it done immediately?

I think that was the case for the third edition, not the fifth.

Anyway, even published adventures have a lot of meaningless skill checks. Usually i just go with "does it make sense that this character could have done this?" and i narrate the results.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Players like to roll dice. It's fine to let them roll the dice.

Generally I rule that if players fail a skill check at something, that avenue of solving the problem is now closed to them (particularly with social encounters). They have to figure out some other way to solve it.
 

aturtledoesbite

earthquake ace
(any/all)
On one hand, yeah, that's sensible. But in the cases these sorts of things tend to pop up, there are no other avenues. It's just, "oh i guess the adventure is over now". Or more accurately, I suppose, is that the GM does not envision any other possible solution.
 

Destil

DestilG
(he/him)
Staff member
Wasn't it so that if a task is not superhumanly difficult (like pushing a heavy door open), you can just spend some time to get it done, instead of rolling a success and getting it done immediately?
Removing take 10/20 was one of the dumbest things to ever happen in D&D rules.

If you’re in the middle of a fight. Sure, failure to open a door matters. Otherwise it’s just wasting everyone’s time.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
On one hand, yeah, that's sensible. But in the cases these sorts of things tend to pop up, there are no other avenues. It's just, "oh i guess the adventure is over now". Or more accurately, I suppose, is that the GM does not envision any other possible solution.

Sure. This is why you either write multiple solutions to a problem or you encourage players to get creative after they fail to pick the lock or force the door open. Or you let them do it but you introduce a complication. They fail the initial strength check, so they do it again, and succeed, but the noise is so loud that the nearby goblin encampment hears it. Something like that.
 

Cyrael

...we're shy.
(he/him)
Taking my players deep into this abandoned city on top of a mesa this weekend. It's not a great map, but half an hour of work with online tools seemed to be good enough for roll 20.

 

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
The aforementioned doors were in a Rime of the Ice Maiden dungeon, so an official book. The DM is the type that goes through everything very quickly and somewhat slapdash, and is also prone to handing out magical items at the drop of a hat. After an encounter that was kind of a pain but not even all that hard, he felt bad or someone badgered him or something, so we each got a magical item, which he rolled on, including a Sunblade for our rogue. We were level 4.

That said, I have another DM with whom we've gone an entire year gaining only two levels and who appears obsessed with difficulty, and with whom we spend multiple of our every-other-weekly sessions doing nothing but some limited roleplay with no rolls at all, so I can appreciate a dedication keeping a quick pace, I guess.
 

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
One of my players would be very happy with that DM. Fights where multiple characters are knocked unconscious are still too easy for him. He wants lots of character death and slow progress.
 

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
Eh, difficult combat is one thing. I crank up the difficulty of my fights too, because otherwise they're so easy that fighting just gets boring and rote. A foregone conclusion, where a player sneezes and knocks out half the fight. I don't try to KO my players, much less kill any of them, but I want to force them to engage with the fight, to feel like they're at risk if they don't use their full toolkit or

But half of the ways she makes things "difficult" and more "serious" is by being strict. Like if a player says they're going to cast fireball, then looks at the map and reconsiders and wants to do something else, she'll be like "no, no, you said you were casting fireball first, so that's what we're going with." Like this is a chess tournament with rules about touching your pieces or something. And like...why? To what end? Now that we're higher level (just hit 13) it's like "alright, even pussyfooting around, time to get serious and take this seriously!" and if you want to take the gloves off and start throwing harder encounters at us, great, but acting like the game itself is any different than it ever has been and needs to be treated like we're in the big leagues now... I don't see it, and I don't particularly enjoy it either.

Again, as DM, I want to challenge my players by making them engage with the combat to emerge victorious, or put them through a puzzle challenge they need to solve, or make consequences for rolls or whatnot. I don't want to police their behavior. The challenge should be in the game, not at a meta level around the playing of the game, if I'm making sense.
 

Olli

(he/him)
That makes perfect sense. Yes, in combat, you need to make quick decisions and follow through, but you the player also don't have the same skills, information and context your character does. It's not a real time computer game.
 

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
My character Nicknack is now a Level 5 Artillerist Artificer/Level 1 Wizard, with the Fey Touched feat (Bless/Misty Step), and a Wand of Web. He’s a 2’ tall Kobold, his Eldritch Cannon is a little walking Dragon, and he has a Homunculus that’s a tiny winged version of himself.

He has 25 spells known + prepared. He only has half caster spell slots, but his spell slot progression is a level early thanks to the Wizard level, he recovers a spell slot from Arcane Recovery, and gets free castings of Bless, Misty Step, a few Webs, and a free Cannon each day.

And Eldritch Cannons are extremely good. The Flamethrower does guaranteed AOE damage each round as a bonus action, and the Protector gives out a crazy amount of Temp HP. We’re currently in the middle of a battle where I was able to prepare by giving a bunch of mooks, the rest of our party, and our pets all 13 Temp HP beforehand, and I’m topping folks up as we go.

He’s a weird little coward who just wants to be part of a big group because Kobolds are wired that way. He runs around buffing up allies and slowing enemies, and occasionally using a beefed up scorching ray if it seems like an enemy is about to die. Mostly he’s there to make the rest of the party look good. He wants to keep the deck stacked in the party’s favor. But, most importantly, he’s just fun to play as.
 

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
I got invited to a one-shot we're playing at level 15 and I'm not sure what to play! I was going to be a Bladesinger, but after seeing how crazy overpowered some of the other players' builds got I'm worried that I'll just kinda suck, or be too squishy, or something! I was thinking maybe a Psy Warrior too, if for no other reason than that being level 15 can help address the MADness with all those extra ASIs (and the magic items we get). Or a Rune Knight, because 15 is when you get 2 infusions of each and it'd basically be sick runes all the time. Or something else entirely, I don't know!

If you were to play in a level 15 one-shot, what kind of character would you roll?

We already have an artificer and when I play one of those I do want to start at a lower level just to ease into the very long (and unique) list of stuff it can do a little more smoothly.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Wow, level 15? There are so many high-level wizard spells that I never get to see in action, so that's probably what I'd pick. Just to get a chance to cast something like disintegrate (although I can't remember how high of level you need to get to get those 8th and 9th level spells, it might be higher than 15).
 

Nich

stuck in baby prison
(he/him)
I discovered with my group that I don't really enjoy one-shots. We used to play them every so often when our DM needed a break from our main campaign, but they were hard for us to get into since they never felt like they mattered. Now we have a second on-and-off campaign that a different player runs during main campaign hiatuses, and we all like that approach much more.
 

clarice

bebadosamba
That sounds fun, Paul le Foul. A lot of story possibilities if you already start at level 15! I've never been higher than level 10th. I would probably make an hermit, someone who has been decades, maybe centuries depending on the race, without seeing another person. A monk maybe would work well, probably one of those new subclasses from Tasha. I wouldn't worry about being weak, i've never seen a character who wasn't useful for the party.

Re: Nich. That's what my group does, too.
 
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