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comment by Devac
Devac  ·  488 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: February 15, 2017

Just in case: you don't have to buy D&D! A huge chunk of it is subject to OGL (Open Gaming Licence) and d20 System Reference Document (SRD) is a proof of just that. You might need a few sets of dice anyway, though. The world of RPGs does not end on D&D anyway and it's a cool thing to explore with friends. System like FATE is also based on 6-sided dice, free, and a great game with minimal mechanics. :D

You'll get better with practice, as with any other skill. The only tip I can give is to know your strengths and weaknesses. I can't fast-talk or lie to save my life, so you will not see complex diplomacy of courtly intrigue in my sessions. But I'm analytical and excel in making weird traps or tactical scenarios. Suffices to say that I'm not a DM who will let you underestimate even such meek monsters like Kobolds ;P. Almost had a TPK (Total Party Kill) with them on a bunch of seventh-level adventurers who didn't feel like that's going to be a challenge. rd95 will probably get a chuckle from that one. ;)

Use a few sessions or scenarios as a practice round to get to know yourself and your players' aptitudes better. Once you are comfortable with everything, it is going to fall into place.

rd95  ·  488 days ago  ·  link  ·  

You must share that Kobold story some time. I'd love to hear it.

Devac  ·  488 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Suffices to say that it was one of those situations where if not for me doing all rolls in the open and showing my GM map afterwards players would just quit because it seemed broken as fuck. It was kinda like this story:

where a party of three min-maxed clerics, fighter, thief and a mage got curb-stomped by three 1st level wizards. In my group the roster was (possibly misremembering the details about the levels, their character sheets are back in my dorm room):

- Wizard 7, elf

- Druid 7, elf

- Cleric 7, dwarf (a cube of muscle and steel, even when compared to a typical dwarf)

- Fighter 3 / Rogue 4, human (that one was min-maxed to a fucked-up extent, and I'm saying it well aware of three full casters in the party!)

- Rogue 7, human

… and those guys moaned that I made broken kobolds with over-engineered traps that were made to lure them into a disadvantageous position. As if that bunch of pint-sized sadistic cowards living in the middle of goblin-filled swamps would meet them in an honest battle. What was supposed to be just a fun and tricky encounter below their level (CR of traps included) has turned into a battle that they barely survived and needed a 'tactical retreat' to do just that.

Perhaps I play too much Dwarf Fortress for their good. ;P

rd95  ·  486 days ago  ·  link  ·  

You sound like you're starting to tip your toes into puzzle battles. I love puzzle battles. :)

Devac  ·  486 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I don't know if I would call it as puzzle battle though. I'm doing my best to stay 'in character' with monsters, and that's what kobolds would do: prepare the battlefield and use those few strengths that they have to their advantage. Traps, superior numbers of low quality troops, hidden dire weasels, javelin-throwing skirmishers and prepared fallback routes are in their nature. If they would capture even one of them, the party would not need to even test intimidation to know the exact layout of traps from that snivelling reptile. One sign of tides turning and half of them would give up while the other half would go in rout. ;)

rd95  ·  486 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Fuxk. I want you to be my GM.

Devac  ·  486 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thanks, I hope that we will get to play one day.

But I am slightly surprised by your response, though. Isn't that what most GMs would do?

rd95  ·  485 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    I'm doing my best to stay 'in character' with monsters

Sadly, there's a lot of DMs that don't do this. The fact that you're willing to take the time to put effort into making your kobolds a serious threat shows that you even respect low CR monsters, which I'd awesome.

Devac  ·  484 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Honestly, as a GM, I prefer low CR creatures.

First of all, they rarely have any fluff associated with them. You can find whole chapters if not books about the elves (and their reviled edgelord cousins, the drows), vampires, beholders, celestials, demons, minotaurs, medusae, dwarves, half-anythings (not a pun on halflings, although they are also on the list), dragons… even fucking gods have an idiotic amount of lore associated with them! But who would make materials for kobolds or goblins? Why bother with fluff for creatures that are pretty much vermin when compared to all the other monsters!? I mean, you will not fight them past the level four, right?

Wrong, because there's this guy:

and he likes his underdogs. ;)

Secondly, I hate being bored as a GM. I also can't stand to see my players being bored. This is RPG and the battle should never feel like a chore or a slogfest. Balancing encounters using pure CR is oftentimes a bad idea since what should be an easy fight can turn out to be nearly impossible for some loadouts. On the other hand, what was supposed to be the big crescendo of an epic session can turn out into this:

(pictured: a cornered and utterly fucked opponent in 'epic decisive battle' where GM forgot about someone's ability that negates major advantage of said opponent).

When you have many relatively weak opponents you can easily gauge how it will work. Are the people getting curb-stomped? No problem, I'll just delay the reinforcements or outright forget about them! Party seems to be dominating the battle and there's no challenge? Well, no problem! I'll just swap these two reserve units into this bigass thing and charge them next round! When you use few opponents, it is (in my experience) harder to control the flow of battle. It's also less varied. Sure, most of the opponents are kobolds/goblins/whatever, but these guys throw javelins, these protect their sole sorcerer and this guy over there directs his unit of weasel riders. Anyone can make that into something interesting. I don't have the skill to make a fun engagement against a single opponent. Plain and simple.

rd95  ·  484 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Dude, you are speaking my language. My favorite monsters out of the MM? Goblins, kobolds, orcs, gnolls, and lizardfolk. When I world build, I often have Orcs at the very least and usually gnolls and/or lizardfolk as major political/cultural players. When your players are smart, they often wisen up real quick and see "Oh, the lizardfolk aren't necessarily the bad guys, they got their own wants and needs they're struggling for over here."

As for your battle tactics? Same page, yet again. I'm pretty certain it was you and I talking about how I don't really like players getting past level 10, partly because there's too much to pay attention to mechanic wise, but also because it often pushes "lesser monsters" out of the picture. Fuck that.

Devac  ·  484 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Yup, that was me. It's also a reason why I think that we both liked the Epic 6 modification. IMO it's just much more interesting to be smart with a limited power than to rely on some weird arsenal. If you have fewer options to choose from, you will react faster. If all party is limited, you will have to work together and design ways to synergise your capabilities. Learn how to use available equipment over trying to get some +4 Nightbringer Sword (of Doom) or another such powerhouse.

You know what was a reaction of one of my players in that kobold engagement?

    What the hell is a tanglefoot bag?

said by the wizard who just got glued in place and in plain sight of attackers with slings and javelins. They forgot about some cheap item from PHB and it hurt them. A lot. It was also the first time his spell fizzled.

Here's what happened during the post-session discussion:

Druid: But still, there were too many traps. Even if the DC to evade them is low, with enough opportunities we were bound to fail at least a few of them.

Me: You are the one to talk! The one who had a fucking flaming sphere prepared! Cast it, roll it around or in the straight line through the obviously prepared battlefield and just follow the scorched safe way. That's total of seven rounds to show-off something that would already require a morale check with something that can actually activate the bulk of the traps.

Wizard: What do you mean by 'obviously prepared battlefield'?

Me: Tell me what you know about kobolds.

Wizard (looking at some of his notes): Small reptilian creatures, likely related to dragons. Sadistic, usually lawful-evil and with a fondness to capturing slaves and… oh, balls. Trapmaking.

Me: YEAH! And I told you that myself after you passed Knowledge and Survival tests.

Rogue: OK, our bad. We did fuck it up. Still, though, a tanglefoot bag? Thunderstones? Smokesticks?

Me: It's a swamp. A go-to place to find tar, sulphur, ammonia and limestone. That's what, DC 20 for Craft(Alchemy)? They had a sorcerer, you know, their favoured class. Plus it's not like they stockpiled them for decades, they had just four of each, which is 400 GP worth in total. This encounter was beneath you guys.

Cleric: Why the fuck we just charged at them? Seriously, we aren't usually that stupid, right?