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  • Merry Christmas, all.

    We had another game session last night, although I don't know if my players had all that much fun. We got to playing pretty late, so they were all tired. That made what followed even worse.

    After a long rest, the players wanted to tackle the ruins of a gemcutter's shop. When I first designed the adventure, I figured this one would be an easy task, so I just put four skeletons in the basement level (technically the whole shop is basement now, what with the landslide, but you know what I mean). The idea being that it was meant for a 1st level party. In an earlier session, though, my players bypassed this option and went down another path instead. In truth, it was because I failed to properly convey its location, so the players got confused and pursued the more straight forward lead, which then lead them down a chain of locations to fight a boss ghoul.

    So when re-examining this encounter, I elected to bump the skeletons up to a better version thereof: four "Dry Bones". Basically identical to regular CR 1/4 skeletons, except they had more health, and had a mechanic where if they took 8 damage they'd fall apart, only to reassemble at the start of their next turn.

    Problem was, I gave the Dry Bones a bit too much health, turning the battle into a slog.

    The setup for the encounter was that a bunch of soldiers from before the mudslide had stormed the gemcutter's place, looking for loot. They killed the gemcutter, then started fighting over a heavy chest containing his "most prized possession". They killed each other, then two of them rose as undead and continued to do a tug-of-war over the chest for the next three decades.

    This is important because when the players encountered the dry bones, finding them too tough to handle, they elected to smash the chest and abscond with whatever came tumbling out. Two of the dry bones are still "alive", but they players had their "prize". Unfortunately, the chest had been filled with the gemcutter's collection of neat looking rocks, that he'd been amassing since childhood. The players were already tired and pissed off about the fight, so they weren't happy. To make it seem slightly less of a waste of time - because I knew DnD players wouldn't appreciate a morality tale about the dangers of rampant greed on the best of days - so I included a chunk of Adamantine ore in the package (yes, this was the plan all along). There was also a Sardonyx gemstone (worth 50 gp) on the gemcutter's corpse, but my players ran away before they could really examine the room. I might think of a way to entice them to go back, after they've taken another long rest.

    Yes, that fight took them from top form to almost dead. To be fair, I should have made the dry bones have less health. To be balanced, though, the Fighter players haven't been using their Second Wind or Action Surge abilities. I need to remind them they can do that.


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    • We had a quick session, just like forty minutes, before my brother went off to dinner with friends.

      This one was mainly clean-up and book-keeping. Two characters were low health, so they took a short rest. I had some members of the local bandit group show up during that, but (as planned) they were properly impressed by our tank's identity as a Folk Hero. It is sometimes a useful thing to have a notable identity, even though it also makes him wanted for murder. The bandits were once a company of mercenary soldiers in the war, before cession of hostilities left them bereft of purpose.

      The bandits offered to pay the party if they cleared out the house from before and retrieve some dead bandits contained therein. For the sake of time, I just handwaved them destroying the rest of the skeletons, and gave them their reward. One was a Sardonyx gem, another being a plot coupon they could cash in to the old woman they've been staying with (next session, they'll be able to get a healing potion from her).

      Lastly, the bandits gave the party a mission to hunt down a giant boar and return with the body. This is among a number of leads the party could pursue, though they're also itching to depart the buried, ruined town and find a proper village, presumably to hawk their wares.

      Don't know if we'll have time to play tomorrow, and my sister and her husband will be leaving in a few days. Nonetheless, if we don't get to play again, I'm glad we got to end on a high note. The last session concluded sourly, with everyone tired and grumpy. I didn't want that to be the last experience they had before putting the game on hold for...months...

      Not having a regular group is suffering.


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      • It does suck, Bluecho, you have my sympathies.

        Our first game went pretty well, for what it was. I can't do a brogue, however, so now all dwarves talk like Mario.

        First time with fifth edition and I really get it, it's so easy and simple and it doesn't seem to be about big numbers as much anymore. Lot of good advice out there about spicing up fights, too. There's still something off about it, though. I guess they're really banking on the online investment of subscriptions to D&D Beyond, the pre-made adventure books, and the DM Guild.
        Last edited by nofather; 12-28-2019, 04:05 AM.

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        • New book announced on the 9th.


          Remi. she/her. game designer.

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          • I just found out, to my surprise, that the Dueling fighting style works with a shield in your off-hand. So there's absolutely no point in fighting with a single one-handed weapon. It's rather disappointing.

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            • Originally posted by Morty View Post
              I just found out, to my surprise, that the Dueling fighting style works with a shield in your off-hand. So there's absolutely no point in fighting with a single one-handed weapon. It's rather disappointing.
              If you want to grapple (a tactic made stronger with the unarmed fighting style in the class feature variants UA.) If you want to cast spells and use a weapon. If you don’t have darkvision and need to be able to carry a light source. It’s a bit like playing sword and shield in monster hunter: your raw offensive and defensive statistics are weaker than other fighting styles, but you make up for it by being able to use items without having to waste time sheathing your weapon. Of course, if your DM is like most DMs I’ve played with and doesn’t bother to enforce the one draw/stow per turn limit, then yeah there’s no advantage to keeping a hand free.


              Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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              • Speaking of torches, with the game I run with my family (when they're around), I gave the DMPC Bard the Dancing Lights cantrip. Even though I think Dancing Lights is subpar (it's a 1 minute duration, requires Actions to re-position, and requires Concentration; no thank you, WotC, I'll stick with Light). I just figured, "eh, he's a Bard, it makes sense flavor-wise, and I keep his spell slots in reserve for healing regardless". I knew the party needed illumination for all the underground stuff they'd be going through during this adventure.

                All of which became a moot point, since part-way through I gave the Rogue player a Moon-Touched Shortsword (glows in dim light or darkness). So their light needs are largely met, without needing to bother with torches.


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                • Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
                  If you want to grapple (a tactic made stronger with the unarmed fighting style in the class feature variants UA.) If you want to cast spells and use a weapon. If you don’t have darkvision and need to be able to carry a light source. It’s a bit like playing sword and shield in monster hunter: your raw offensive and defensive statistics are weaker than other fighting styles, but you make up for it by being able to use items without having to waste time sheathing your weapon. Of course, if your DM is like most DMs I’ve played with and doesn’t bother to enforce the one draw/stow per turn limit, then yeah there’s no advantage to keeping a hand free.
                  Entirely fair point about grappling, though it personally doesn't interest me much - I'm after a stylish duellist aesthetic. Casting spells depends on what you're proficient with - you can do it just as well with a two-handed weapon if you can use one. As far as using items go, it does depend on how the GM rules it. Stowing your shield isn't that much of a hassle if you find yourself in a situation where you need your off-hand for something, though.

                  I have a personal preference for a character two uses a single one-handed weapon without ever picking up a shield. Which is something you often see in media... but games, not just D&D, have a really weird blind spot for. Maybe the sudden popularity of the Witcher show will get people thinking about it.

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                  • Originally posted by Morty View Post

                    Entirely fair point about grappling, though it personally doesn't interest me much - I'm after a stylish duellist aesthetic. Casting spells depends on what you're proficient with - you can do it just as well with a two-handed weapon if you can use one. As far as using items go, it does depend on how the GM rules it. Stowing your shield isn't that much of a hassle if you find yourself in a situation where you need your off-hand for something, though.

                    I have a personal preference for a character two uses a single one-handed weapon without ever picking up a shield. Which is something you often see in media... but games, not just D&D, have a really weird blind spot for. Maybe the sudden popularity of the Witcher show will get people thinking about it.
                    It would be cool to have a fighting style or feat to support it. I always liked the feat chain in KotOR that gave you +1 to hit and +1 AC when using one single-blades lightsaber or vibroblade.


                    Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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                    • I feel a little bad about myself that I gave my players a literal Monkey's Paw in the last session.

                      Not much, just a little bit.


                      My Homebrew Signature

                      "And all our knowledge is, Ourselves to know"- An Essay on Man

                      I now blog in here

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                      • Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
                        It would be cool to have a fighting style or feat to support it. I always liked the feat chain in KotOR that gave you +1 to hit and +1 AC when using one single-blades lightsaber or vibroblade.
                        That was pretty good, yes. I'm not sure if a +1 AC, +1 to-hit bonus would work for single weapons in 5E. It kind of steps on the shoes of the Defender style, what with the +1 AC. Then again, you are sort of deliberately picking a worse weapon option, what with forgoing a shield or two-handed weapon. So maybe it is appropriate.

                        I'm not sure how it'd work with versatile weapons, but honestly I think they may be a dead end. Just a ribbon to make the weapons table look prettier. Or maybe the style could work with versatile weapons to, so Strength has an extra thing going for it.

                        I'm not sure what a feat would look like. I'm generally wary of the combat style feats, as they seem ill-fitting to 5E in a few ways.

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                        • Originally posted by LostLight View Post
                          I feel a little bad about myself that I gave my players a literal Monkey's Paw in the last session.

                          Not much, just a little bit.
                          Tell us more about that.

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                          • Originally posted by atamajakki View Post
                            New book announced on the 9th.
                            So the announcement got delayed, but Amazon leaked the title and it’s “The Explorer's Guide to Wildemount,“ which implies an officially supported Critical Role campaign setting. I’m glad they’re expanding setting support, but I can’t say I’m excited for this one personally.
                            Last edited by Charlaquin; 01-12-2020, 01:29 PM.


                            Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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                            • The entire new... thing with RP podcasts makes me feel like a crotchety old man who doesn't understand the new stuff kids are into these days. Then again, I've never enjoyed podcasts to begin with, so it's not surprising I wouldn't enjoy listening to people playing RPGs either. Critical Role did briefly interest me due to their goblin character - then I found out some spoilery facts about her that made me write the whole thing off entirely.

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                              • Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
                                Tell us more about that.
                                So my party has managed to stop the dread infernal ritual one of the BBEG of the setting (a cleric of Vesh, yes the one from Critical Role, no, I am not running that setting, who is also the former mentor of one of the PCs), and while the priest has escaped via Plan Shift, they did managed to find the following loot-

                                150gp, Handy Haversack, a figurine of Vesh, a piece of a meteorite, a doll which looks exactly like the favorite childhood toy of the PC who found it, a dried paw of a monkey and four tarot cards: the Lovers, the Wheel of Fortune, the Tower and the Devil, with each card showing the image of one gods or demigods of the world (Vesh is the Devil, for example), and their names are written in a strange uber language which can mean different things in different languages. As you may guess, 90% sounds just like very, very bad news.

                                So my players start to examine the treasure, and when they got to the Monkey's Paw about half of them said "WHAT?!", as they know the source material. By rolling Arcana high enough, one of the characters have managed to gain some information about it- that it is a special object that can grant the user 5 wishes, and requires attunement. Now, my version of the Monkey's Paw works more in the lines of the one shown in xxxholic, with the needed arcana check working like this-

                                DC20: you heard stories about a powerful item called a Monkey's Paw, which can grant wishes
                                DC25: while the Monkey's Paw is known to grant the wish of the user, it is also cursed, and will corrupt any wish asked by the user
                                DC30: the Paw is a dark item with malign nature. After granting four wishes, the fifth wish is known to kill the user.

                                The player which examined the artifact rolled 22- so while they were not outright aware it is cursed, I believe that anyone who got "free five wishes" from the DM should be suspicious.

                                However, one of my players apparently had some used for the Paw- she managed to convince the one who found it to exchange it for two healing potions with her, and then made a wish "to kill the Duke Lucas von Durnik in the next 24 hours by making him explode into tiny tiny pieces so he would never ever return to life, ever", without the rest of the party being aware of it, of course. Now, Lucas von Durnik is a terrible, terrible person who deserves to die like a pig, and it is a mission granted to the character by her Thieves Guild to kill the Duke, as they predict that it will start a civil war in the Empire. And her wish was granted.

                                While all of the players thought that as she asked for him to "explode" a lot of other people are going to die because of it (which the PC was ok with it, let's just say that her Guild scares the hell out of her), that didn't happen. Instead, when the got back to the capital, they have all been arrested by the guards- for while the Paw have killed the Duke, it also made sure that everyone would know who was the one to kill him, arranging his death due to instability in his consumed souls storage (I did tell you he was a terrible person, didn't I?), which caused him to explode just as he was in an audition with the Emperor and his court (half of which really needed the Duke alive, including one of the Emperor's children), while the Head Wizard and a number of seers were around "by chance". They also found it really easy to scry for the source of the attack and the identity of the one responsible. Now, my players think that maybe they should ask for the Paw to not be punished for their actions- which only shows they really don't learn their lessons :P


                                My Homebrew Signature

                                "And all our knowledge is, Ourselves to know"- An Essay on Man

                                I now blog in here

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