A problem I see in most groups is the missing player. There is almost always a player or two who can’t make the session, in our group we covered this by having another player cover their character for the session and in olden D and Ye D days this worked fine but in 4e this was a hassle. Each class, even the lowly fighter has its own flavor now and special rules that impact its play. Some of my players were really struggling to get their heads around another PC and it was not really fun for them. The second problem is ages old, the player who wasn’t there’s PC was somehow always the one in the most danger. This wasn’t intentional, out come the monsters and then there they are down on the ground taking death saves. I can try to cheat this as DM, but I have enough to juggle as it is. By the end of the last game we turned no show’s PCs into semi-NPCs, they got one at will they could use and in the case of a leader they could still use the class basic heals. This solved the first problem but left us with the second.
Twitter doesn’t do nuance very well. There is a debate today about whether online dependence in a table top RPG would be a bad thing. The debate started with this post very little of which I disagree with. Rob Donoghue is talking about the difficulties third party developers face with 4e D&D, some of which are due to the electronic tools that WOTC has put out. Robertson games followed with this post which got me to wondering whether this is true. At this point thanks to the micro nature of twitter the conversation fragments a bit, 4e isn’t online dependent, WOTC should make better tools, etc. I really don’t disagree with anyone in the chat, it would be great it the WOTC tools were more open to third party input, I don’t think you have to use DDI to enjoy the 4e game, WOTC really should do a Mac version of their tools and other good points. What I want to get back to is the idea of whether a table top RPG (lets forget 4e here) could ever be online dependent and still be good. All this is theoretical obvious, this horse doesn’t exist at the moment.
One of the hits on fourth edition D&D is that there are no non-combat skills that allow players to roleplay. There are backgrounds available, but most people choose them for skill bonuses rather than for real background improvement. The shorthand skills method I will be using for my next game is that each player can declare two areas they are skilled in outside of the main skill system. This could be things like cooking, sailing, clock repair, mining, stone work etc. Whenever the PC needs to take a skill check in an area related to one of these skills they count the check as one level of difficulty easier than it would normally be. So if you picked sailing, and needed an athletics roll to climb the rigging and fix a loose rope, normally this would be difficult, but for you it would be moderate. If it was already an easy check you pass it for free. This doesn’t mean that things that are close count, mining isn’t dungeoneering, it is mining items from the ground, climbing a tower isn’t the same as climbing rigging etc., but if you are in something directly related it counts. This is better than the +2 bonus you get from the current backgrounds, but isn’t over powering.
So my group has just finished the first section of Paizo’s Legacy of Fire story path, The Howl of the Carrion King. It went well, with the players clearing the gnolls out of the town of Kelmarane after a bunch of tough fights with characters reaching level 4 by the end. Good fun, but it wasn’t perfect on my side of the DM screen so as I start planning the next campaign I thought it would be good to go over what I thought went well and what didn’t. This isn’t about the module, I will post about that later, this about how I like games to go and how it actually went.
1. Lady Karska is a wealthy widow who collects ‘magic scrolls’, she has dozens of them and almost all are complete fakes as the local con men have figured out that Lady Karska can’t tell a fake from a real scroll, however if needed one or more can be real scrolls to aid the group at the right moment. As for the Lady herself you can meet her at the inn where she will offer to buy scrolls from adventurers. She cannot use them, but that doesn’t stop her from trying and she will spend hours trying to get a scroll to work once she has purchased it, when she fails she puts them into a large chest in her home which is jammed with old scrolls. read more »
Here are some NPC guardsmen to give a little flavor to a town or city district. None are meant to be a story in themselves, just color to add to a story. Pick the one that fits best or roll a d10 when you need a bit of flavor.
1. Bjorn Biskoff: Bjorn is the town bully. In a lonely town like this he is the big man, at least as far as strength goes. Unfortunately the strongest PC is stronger, Bjorn will try to prove he is stronger, but in an honest match of strength he will lose. He hates losing and will constantly bad mouth the PCs and the stronger PC in particular at every opportunity. Every time the PCs destroy something in town or miss a stealth roll he will be there and will be a constant thorn in the PCs side. He isn’t looking for a fight, but he is very bitter and can’t be bought off. read more »