How do you _____?

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Re: How do you _____?

Post by Bouv » Fri Apr 10, 2015 4:13 pm

Michael Silverbane wrote:I have ruled that characters succeeding at a saving throw are generally aware that something has happened, but not necessarily what it was. e.g.

Polymorph - You feel some force come over you, but your body is able to fight off the affect.
Poison - You feel momentarily unwell, but the feeling passes with no real effect.
Disease - You feel slightly sneezy (or itchy, or queasy, as appropriate), but are able to press on.

Dominate Person - You feel a force attempt to overcome your mind, but are able to reassert your own will.

and so on...
That's what I was thinking. I was reading an adventure ("Caravan Guards" from Dungeon #26) and one of the NPC's "pretends" to cast a spell (claiming to show what he saw, but he claims to be a fighter but is a magic-using bhut) and actually does so. And that got me to thinking...if the PC made a saving throw...would they be the wiser?

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Re: How do you _____?

Post by Tom Bulls Eye » Sun Apr 12, 2015 11:31 am

Bouv wrote:
Michael Silverbane wrote:I have ruled that characters succeeding at a saving throw are generally aware that something has happened, but not necessarily what it was. e.g.

Polymorph - You feel some force come over you, but your body is able to fight off the affect.
Poison - You feel momentarily unwell, but the feeling passes with no real effect.
Disease - You feel slightly sneezy (or itchy, or queasy, as appropriate), but are able to press on.

Dominate Person - You feel a force attempt to overcome your mind, but are able to reassert your own will.

and so on...
That's what I was thinking. I was reading an adventure ("Caravan Guards" from Dungeon #26) and one of the NPC's "pretends" to cast a spell (claiming to show what he saw, but he claims to be a fighter but is a magic-using bhut) and actually does so. And that got me to thinking...if the PC made a saving throw...would they be the wiser?
I tend to add an element of learning such that if the characters have saved against the effect several times before, they are able to figure out the spell that was cast against them.

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Re: How do you _____?

Post by Bouv » Thu Apr 16, 2015 1:45 pm

Deal with charges in rods/staves/wands? Will the PC's ever learn how many charges there are? Can they recharge them?

I read at another board that the DM secretly rolls a d20 every time a wand is used and if a "1" pops up, the wand has no more charges. That way, no one has to keep track of charges, especially if more than one item is in play.

Before, I kept track of the number of charges and didn't let them be recharges (though I might change that if a PC creates one - they will be allowed to "recharge" the one they made for a limited amount of time). I've now switched to the d20 roll since that just simplifies things.

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Re: How do you _____?

Post by timemrick » Fri Apr 17, 2015 3:24 am

In Third Edition, the identify spell tells you how many charges are left. There are no rules for recharging staffs and wands; when they're used up, the staff or wand becomes a nonmagical stick. Rods, OTOH, either do not have charges, or have charges that replenish on their own.

Pathfinder follows the v.3.5 rules for these items, except that a spellcaster can recharge a staff by taking the time to sacrifice a prepared spell of appropriate level to replace one charge. Wands can't be recharged, with one exception: a wizard who has a wand for a bonded object can use it to craft a new wand after it's depleted. (As an aside, Pathfinder also makes identify a more generally useful--and far less expensive!--spell.)

In my group, we keep track of charges, whether it's an item found as treasure, bought from a spellcaster or shop, or crafted by a PC. My players are fond of buying wands of cure light wounds for cheap back-up healing. They use prepared spell slots for the higher-level healing spells during combat, then break out the wands to heal up afterwards--a wand of cure light wounds is far more cost-effective per HP healed than higher level wands as long as you're not pressed for time, and it saves the cleric from having to tap out all her lower-level slots. Also, when we create new spellcaster characters above 1st level, we often buy partially depleted wands to save some coins--why buy a fully-charged wand when you just want to be able to cast a particular spell a handful of times? (It's slightly cheaper than the same number of scrolls, and using a wand doesn't provoke an attack of opportunity.) In both these examples, the players paid for a specific number of charges, and by the gods, they want every gp's worth, so the random d20 roll idea wouldn't fit our style of play.
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Re: How do you _____?

Post by Bouv » Tue May 05, 2015 5:46 pm

Create NPCs, stat wise? Henchmen, mentors, allies, advisories - doesn't matter, how do you roll them up? Or do you just chose the numbers you want to fit in there to make the NPC work.

For henchmen and allies, I'll usually roll up the character. For a baddie, usually one stat I'll put high up and roll the rest.

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Re: How do you _____?

Post by RobJN » Tue May 05, 2015 6:11 pm

Bouv wrote:Create NPCs, stat wise? Henchmen, mentors, allies, advisories - doesn't matter, how do you roll them up? Or do you just chose the numbers you want to fit in there to make the NPC work.

For henchmen and allies, I'll usually roll up the character. For a baddie, usually one stat I'll put high up and roll the rest.
A bit of advice I picked up from the Alternity GMG: Not everything has to have a stat. Unless they're going to play a major role in the campaign, wing it. Decide what they know and don't know, what they can and can't do. Never assign a stat unless absolutely necessary. Five of the Handmaidens from Thorn's Chronicle have full write-ups. The other seven? Their "stats" are summed up by their names, and brief background sketches. Oh, and they each have the "Singing" General Skill. When the time comes, their stats will likely be average or lower.

Stats for any other NPC I need to come up with are assigned. An NPC is there for a specific purpose, and is tailored accordingly. Rolling for ability scores is something that PCs do. :twisted:

Another trick is to borrow from existing sources: NPCs or pregens from other modules
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Re: How do you _____?

Post by timemrick » Wed May 06, 2015 3:04 am

RobJN wrote:Stats for any other NPC I need to come up with are assigned. An NPC is there for a specific purpose, and is tailored accordingly. Rolling for ability scores is something that PCs do. :twisted:
For most NPCs in 3.5 or Pathfinder, I just use the standard and elite arrays, and arrange as needed. That way, I know the character is balanced for its CR. If I need an NPC with more challenging stats, I modify as needed, and if they're significantly better, I'll bump up the CR by +1.

If the NPC is designed for a combat encounter, or for whom I need fairly well defined abilities for some other reason, I'll work up a full stat block. If the encounter is mostly role-playing, and I won't need many solid numbers, I might not bother with stats.

Then, because I like to tinker, there are a few characters who I'll fully stat out every though I don't need to, just to determine how to model their concept.
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Re: How do you _____?

Post by Bouv » Fri May 15, 2015 6:13 pm

Kind of a multi-part question, dealing with magic items.

How do you handle potions in your campaigns? Are they readily available? Easy to make? Easy to identify?

How do you handle the making of magic scrolls? Can PC's make them right out of the box? Wait till nth level?

How do you handle a magic item marketplace? Is there a magic item Wal-Mart in big towns? Will the PC's be lucky to even find a potion of healing for sale in a place like Waterdeep? Can they sell magic items easily?

For the most part, basic potions (healing, antidote, etc.) can be found fairly easily in larger cities and towns. In my campaign, healing potions can be made by magic-users, clerics, herbalists, druids, apothecaries, etc. They may all have different ways of making them, but they do the same thing. And if someone is experienced in making potions, they can identify potions pretty easily as well. Once PC's get a high enough level, and have enough time and training, I'd allow them to start researching and making potions.

As for scrolls, I'm not too sure what any rules are for writing scrolls, but in BECMI/RC you have to be 9th level. I'd allow that but finding special paper and ink to write the spell, plus time, would be different as that is not easily available everywhere. In my campaign, I'm also going to say you are essentially "casting" the spell into the scroll so it had to be memorized and then is lost for the day, per standard rules. So no writing out a bunch of magic-missile or healing scrolls right before a big battle as they won't do you any better than having them memorized in the first place. As for buying them, some basics are easier to come by (detect/read magic, cure light wounds) but, especially magic-users, different spells would be different as a magic-user might now know if you know the spell and doesn't want to just "give" it to you instead of "teaching" you (aka more money).

As for a magic-item marketplace, larger cities some minor items (potions, scrolls, see above) are easy to find. Other items take a bit more digging and would probably cost a lot more (my players tend not to search for new items besides healing potions). With the thief's contacts via guilds, they are able to sell some of their items more easily. Small towns would take them if offered but wouldn't buy them.

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Re: How do you _____?

Post by agathokles » Tue May 19, 2015 3:23 pm

Potions: relatively common, but costly. Easy to identify (tasting them is sufficient, or alchemists can identify them). Not so easy to make (only after ninth level), except the short duration ones which can be made with Secret Craft of Alchemy or the Alchemy skill.

Scrolls: after ninth level.

Magic items sale: easier to sell than to acquire. There are no magic-items wal-marts, not even in larger cities, although certain shops catering to collectors and adventurers will keep a selection of items, or even accept orders (although the speed with which orders are dealt with is hard to predict).
Potions and scrolls are easier, and may be purchased at temples and magicians' guilds in major cities (those where higher level wizards and priests can be found, basically). Once more, short duration potions are relatively commonplace, since they can be manufactured by low-level characters, and can be found in any town.

GP

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Re: How do you _____?

Post by timemrick » Thu May 21, 2015 11:55 pm

This very much depends on what edition you're talking about. It's been too long since I've played BECMI, 1E or 2E to recall those rules, and I no longer own those editions, so I can't address them.

In 3E, the rules for crafting magic items were codified in more detail: spellcasters needed to take item creation feats to make magic items, and each kind of item/feat required a certain minimum caster level (1st for scrolls, 3rd for potions and wondrous items, 5th for wands, arms, and armor, etc.). This made magic items much more available to PCs, and the game was designed for a certain level of wealth expected at each level (and after the first few levels, that gear became primarily magic items). The DMG even had rules for determining how easy magic items were to obtain based on a settlement's size. Most of the D&D that I've run or played in the past 15 years has been 3E (and most of that 3.5). I tend to hand-wave the PCs buying basic, low-level items (potions, low-level scrolls, +1 items) during downtime, with higher-level stuff mostly being acquired through adventuring. If the party included an item crafter, their types of items they could make would naturally be more easily available, but I've rarely had a game with PCs of high enough level to build really powerful stuff.

(For the most part, Pathfinder follows the 3E magic item rules, with only a few minor tweaks.)

In 4E, magic items were even easier to obtain, craft, and trade in for more useful stuff. Items were rated by character level in additional to GP value, and you could quickly equip any level character by taking one magic item each of (IIRC?) level-1, level, and level+1, plus X amount of spending cash (also based on level) for additional gear. And a spellcaster only needed to learn a few rituals to identify, create, or change magic items. (I haven't played enough 4E, or recently enough, to recall more details.)

My experience with 5E has been pretty limited so far (one campaign to 5th level, and I've only read the PHB). This edition seems to be going back to a more scarce magic item economy, as in 1E & 2E. Basic healing potions are easy to buy (and make, if you take a feat) but for the most part, characters have to find magic items through adventuring, not through buying or crafting.
Last edited by timemrick on Sat May 30, 2015 3:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How do you _____?

Post by Michael Silverbane » Fri May 22, 2015 9:40 pm

I use 3e as my base game, where magic item creation is more common and codified to begin with.

I allow magic item creation via the use of skills, requiring a certain number of ranks in a skill to make magic items of an appropriate level. For instance, a potion of cure light wounds requires 4 ranks of one of either Craft (alchemy), Heal, or maybe one or two other appropriate seeming skills. A +5 vorpal sword, on the other hand would require 23 ranks of Craft (weaponsmithing).

So, magic items of any stripe are craft-able by player characters.

I also require the use of a magical component in magic item creation, called motes, which are most easily obtained through adventuring. So, while player characters can ostensibly purchase magic items from NPCs, there are very few magic item shops, per se. Characters have to go out and get the resources with which to make the magic items that they want, and then they can either make the item themselves, or get someone to do it for them, which takes time and skill.
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Re: How do you _____?

Post by Bouv » Mon Jun 01, 2015 3:22 pm

Deal with saving throws at higher levels? I'm finding this more and more now that my player's characters, with their rings of protection, only need to roll 8 or 9's , maybe lower, on saving throws. Facing off against a higher level foe or spells, they easily brush off the damage and that "fear" of earlier levels is gone. I'm thinking maybe tossing in some penalties - a negative for 1/2 spell level and 1/2 caster level or something. Nothing to make it so they would never make a save but have some more fear in that they might have less than a 50/50 chance of making it.

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Re: How do you _____?

Post by Tom Bulls Eye » Tue Jun 02, 2015 5:46 pm

Bouv wrote:Deal with saving throws at higher levels? I'm finding this more and more now that my player's characters, with their rings of protection, only need to roll 8 or 9's , maybe lower, on saving throws. Facing off against a higher level foe or spells, they easily brush off the damage and that "fear" of earlier levels is gone. I'm thinking maybe tossing in some penalties - a negative for 1/2 spell level and 1/2 caster level or something. Nothing to make it so they would never make a save but have some more fear in that they might have less than a 50/50 chance of making it.
Remember that magical items are subject to saving throws as well. By allowing to kill the items off as per rules reinstates some of the fear in my experience, since the players will always have the fear that suddenly their protection will disappear.

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Re: How do you _____?

Post by howandwhy99 » Tue Jun 16, 2015 2:01 am

Bouv wrote:So to start - how do you deal with wilderness/world maps? Do your PC's have any idea what the world looks like? Or even the area they are in? If they have to do wilderness travel, how much of the map do you let them see?
Wilderness/world maps are just like dungeon maps. Part of the challenge and fun of the game is the players mapping them.

PCs know the part of the world they grew up in. They also know the route to and starting location of the campaign. I.e. the road to some rumor-has-it, treasure-filled cavern or something.

Maps, like all knowledge, are treasure and gained by players based upon their ability to play.

However, yes, I do like campaigns which allow for relatively low cost access to low rate information about the "world" (local area). Which includes maps.

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Re: How do you _____?

Post by Bouv » Thu Jun 25, 2015 1:24 pm

Deal with traps? Do you keep them simple affairs (pit traps, poison darts, etc.)? Or do you go with things like Grimtooth's Traps and they are really elaborate traps?

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Re: How do you _____?

Post by Ashtagon » Thu Jun 25, 2015 1:31 pm

Bouv wrote:Deal with traps? Do you keep them simple affairs (pit traps, poison darts, etc.)? Or do you go with things like Grimtooth's Traps and they are really elaborate traps?
Basic traps are just hit point taxes, and are quite boring. Traps become interesting not when they damage the PCs, but when they are either part of the scenery in a larger fight, or the party has discovered them and is interacting with them.

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Re: How do you _____?

Post by Bouv » Fri Jul 10, 2015 9:07 pm

Handle time-travel? Avoid it? Love it? I am planning down the road and am tempted to maybe use it after Sons of Kyuss start to overrun everywhere and the PC's will have to travel back in time to try to prevent it.

On a couple pod casts I've heard a couple examples. One where a group went back in time and ended up meeting (in passing) their future selves and waving.

another told of a campaign where a powerful wizard was trying to prevent the collapse of time and sent the party on missions in time to prevent it. If they needed better equipment he would let them loot bodies. Ends up the wizard was the reason time was collapsing, and bodies being looted were the PC's own bodies from times they failed and that they had failed a lot....

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Re: How do you _____?

Post by RobJN » Fri Jul 10, 2015 10:00 pm

Bouv wrote:Handle time-travel? Avoid it? Love it? I am planning down the road and am tempted to maybe use it after Sons of Kyuss start to overrun everywhere and the PC's will have to travel back in time to try to prevent it.

On a couple pod casts I've heard a couple examples. One where a group went back in time and ended up meeting (in passing) their future selves and waving.

another told of a campaign where a powerful wizard was trying to prevent the collapse of time and sent the party on missions in time to prevent it. If they needed better equipment he would let them loot bodies. Ends up the wizard was the reason time was collapsing, and bodies being looted were the PC's own bodies from times they failed and that they had failed a lot....
Got this tangled up with my Thorn's Chronicle project. Bargle had begun collecting Traladaran girls matching the description of a mysterious figure in the Song of Halav, depicted in wood-cuts as a young fair-haired girl in white whom he dubbed "Petra's Handmaiden." He hoped that one of these girls was descended from and had inherited the figure's resistance to the Eye turning those unworthy to stone (something Bargle, naturally, wished to avoid, but was not averse to having happen to others). Fast forward a few months, after the girls' escape and subsequent capture of Bargle: While searching for Halav's shield, a group of the girls who'd banded together in midst of Bargle's plot accidentally trigger a Timeslip, hurling them 2,000 years into the past, at the height of the Beast Man invasion. So suddenly, a not-yet-Immortal Petra finds herself with a cadre of blonde girls, most of them dressed in white....

I honestly didn't plan for the time-travel aspect to creep into the plot line, but it was too tempting to pass up. They weren't originally supposed to be the "white witches," of legend (that was supposed to be the awakening of the Progeny in response to the rise in demonic activity around the planet), but in true "second pass on events in time-travel-fiction" fashion, it's turning out to be nothing like I expected. History lessons, in the thick of it: how do the girls reconcile the heroes of the Song with the gritty realities of war, famine, the clashing of the various Traladaran clans and city-states? How much does the girls' presence threaten established history? How much of history is dependent on their being there?

Oh, such timey-wimey wibbly-wobbly goodness to muddle through!
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Re: How do you _____?

Post by timemrick » Thu Jul 23, 2015 3:54 am

I haven't really played much with time-travel in any of my games because I usually have enough going on without the temporal headaches.

However, it's occurred to me that if I ever want to run Black Sails Over Freeport, Hell's Triangle would be a handy plot device to make my (post-Succession Crisis) campaign's PCs slip backward in time a few years and witness some wild local history up close and personal.

And I've long had an idea for a Victorian-era campaign that would prominently feature time-travel--in the hands of the villains. A number of Atlantean sorcerers escaped the cataclysm that destroyed their civilization--some by traveling forward in time, some by surviving the millenia as powerful undead. As the heroes will eventually discover, the ancient sorcerers' first attempt at a mysterious ritual cracked the world, sinking Atlantis and sending echoes through time that triggered the Thera explosion and other major disasters. Their second attempt could do even worse damage, whether it fails or succeeds. The eruption of Krakatoa in 1883 just begs to be worked into the climax, and unlucky heroes could find themselves catapulted into ancient Atlantis, Lemuria, or elsewhere in time. Think Ghosts of Albion crossed with Doctor Who (minus Time Lords and TARDISes), with an unhealthy dose of Madame Blavatsky's Theosophical nonsense thrown in.
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Re: How do you _____?

Post by Tom Bulls Eye » Thu Jul 23, 2015 5:53 pm

I never have given it much thought. The "Reign of Chaos" module is the only time travel module I've played and there the players are moved away from Mystara, such that the events on Mystara are not influenced by the events in the module.

However, in my honest opinion, most of history is pretty resilient to single events, like a river is quite oblivious of eddies, so I would probably have it as a general rule that player actions in the past has little consequence on the future as they know from their own experience.

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Re: How do you _____?

Post by Bouv » Mon Aug 03, 2015 2:23 am

How do you (as a DM) deal with character death? Do you warn your players to keep a stack of characters ready to go? Do everything in your power to prevent it from happening? Only if it fits into a story?

As a DM, I would (with my current group) try to keep them from dying in so much as I'll lay down hints and stuff, but the dice still land as they do and they suffer damage. And if they did anything really stupid, it's they're fault.

If I DM'd a more "Gamer-Heavy" group, I'd be less willing to throw the hints down.

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Re: How do you _____?

Post by Tom Bulls Eye » Mon Aug 03, 2015 7:07 am

If it is a one day stand-alone game they die, if it is a campaign they always survive miraculously. The reason being that campaigns are about something more than merely surviving a dungeon, whereas stand-alones are all about surviving the dungeon.

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Re: How do you _____?

Post by Michael Silverbane » Wed Aug 05, 2015 9:29 pm

I don't do anything in particular to help preserve the character's lives. I will, occasionally ask, "Are you sure you want to do that?" when a player declares that his character will do something that the character should know is super dangerous.

Other than that, I like to maintain my impartiality as best as possible. Obviously, I want the characters to succeed at whatever it is they think they are doing, but I don't feel the need to adhere to any set plot line, or anything. The story, to me, is whatever happens to the characters.
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Re: How do you _____?

Post by Angel Tarragon » Thu Aug 06, 2015 1:21 am

Michael Silverbane wrote:The story, to me, is whatever happens to the characters.
No adventure paths or modules? Just completely winging it?

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Re: How do you _____?

Post by Michael Silverbane » Thu Aug 06, 2015 3:36 am

Angel Tarragon wrote:
Michael Silverbane wrote:The story, to me, is whatever happens to the characters.
No adventure paths or modules? Just completely winging it?
I will use bits and pieces of Adventure modules, for locations, NPCs, or to present situations to the player characters, but mostly no, I just try to react to whatever it is the player characters want to do as best I can.
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