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[DnD 4e] First time DM needs some advice

GnomeyGnomey Registered User regular
edited September 2010 in Critical Failures
So this Sunday will be my first time as DM and I want to engage the PC almost right away with an encounter in an arena setting. i'd like to set up traps in the arena that would be influenced by the crowds favor (i.e. a trap door would open when something crossed over it if the audience of the arena didn't like the creature triggering the trap).
I was thinking this could be handled by a simple charisma check but was wondering if I should set up a different check for the creatures in the arena so that it is easier for the creatures to fall in the trap than the PC.
has anyone out there set something like this up before? If so how did it operate? Just looking for suggestions.
Thanks

Yes, I'm afraid we have no bananas.
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Posts

  • TofystedethTofystedeth Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I've not done it, but having a played a few games with similar kind of "crowd favor" systems here's how I'd run it.
    Presumably, the PCs and the enemies are in two teams, though you could tweak as necessary if it's a free-for-all.
    One of those teams would probably considered the crowd favorite, and the other the villain. This would depend on your setting etc, as to whether they want the monsters or enemy gladiators to win, or whether they like the plucky underdog adventurers.
    Set up a sliding scale of favor looking something like this.
    Hate<---(effect)---(effect)--neutral--(effect)---(effect)--->Love
    Where as the audience's opinion of the party changes, different traps or effects are activated. Things that could change opinions could be, someone the don't like hurting or killing someone they do, or vice versa. Perhaps you could let your players do "taunts" or RP their attacks to gain crowd favor. How you handle that would be up to you. A badly hurt player or creature taking out several in one turn may make a big shift in favor.
    If your crowd is fickle, maybe you'd represent that by simply rolling dice every turn to determine how their opinion changes.

    Just throwin stuff out there.

    Tofystedeth on
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  • SonWorshiperSonWorshiper Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    (Edit - I started typing this when there were no responses, but I like the previous post's ideas as well)

    You might be able to set this up as a sort of skill challenge in conjunction with the combat.

    Let's see... (I want to say DnD Insider had an article on this a while back, so if you have access to that, it might be worth your while.)

    I would suggest dropping hints if there is time before the combat begins, something like the grizzled veteran who leads the PCs to the arena mentioning, "All the skill in the world won't save you out there if the crowd doesn't like you. They're the real monsters here... and if they get bored, things get bloody."

    Or simply explain the mechanic you want to use. "Hey guys, here's the deal. The crowd has to be impressed. If you don't do something entertaining or pass a charisma check, they'll start working against you." You don't have to tell them that this means the crowd activates traps, but you can.

    Maybe make it an Insight check -- passive (10+ the PC's insight skill) might even be enough to pass a moderate difficulty check. "Hmm... the crowd is booing at random monster, and now all of a sudden, the ground that WAS safe earlier is a trapdoor. I wonder if the crowd can control some of that?" Perception would work too... maybe there are controls that the PCs can spot.

    If you do a full-up skill check, be clear about which skills might result in success. Diplomacy maybe? Perhaps the PC can try to win the crowd over. Intimidate - the PC can show off and impress the crowd by being ooh scary! Bluff? Maybe. Acrobatics combined with an attack? The PC puts a little flair or a little role-playing and thought into his/her next move instead of "I shoot an arrow at the monster again for the seventh time."

    Or each round, have a group Charisma check. d20 plus Cha modifier vs. some number you set. Something reasonable... DC 15 is the default level 1 "moderate" skill challenge, but for those who make Charisma a dump stat, this may be very difficult. If you do this, I like the idea that it's a group effort... if half or more of the PCs pass the check, the whole group passes. If less than half pass the check, the whole group suffers. That can be loss of a healing surge or two (their vitality is sapped because they know the spectators are against them), a bonus or penalty to attack rolls, the crowd starts using traps on them... whatever.

    Arenas can definitely be fun, and letting your players know that you want them to take their combat to a different level than just "smash monster, smash next monster" might create some interesting results. (I had a halfling rogue who LOVED to go all rodeo-style and ride the giant monsters I threw at the party.)

    Good luck.

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  • TofystedethTofystedeth Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    What is it about halfling rogues trying to ride monsters?

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  • GnomeyGnomey Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Thanks. That helps a lot! I like the idea of the veteran dropping hints and then trying to let them figure it out.

    Gnomey on
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  • AegofAegof Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Okay, an audience mechanic is a great idea, but you wanna give everyone, players and monsters included, the chance to manipulate them. This means that a straight Charisma check is out--unless you're lucky enough to have an all-Cha-based party, I suppose. You want to give your players the chance to perform using their skills and powers, instead. I'd say all of them, if possible, or at least as many as the players come up with ways to perform with. You want to come up with a few for the monsters to use, intelligent or not, to both provide an example for the players and to, well, make sure this feature of the encounter doesn't go to waste if your players don't take advantage of it.

    Maybe take it beyond traps and make the audience's love give a "crowd bonus" to damage rolls and skill checks. This means you can take the mechanic out of the arena, if a PC gets challenged to a duel or something. If the threat of traps isn't enough to get them winning over the arena audience, I bet this will be.

    I really think skills can be a player's bread-and-butter in a fight like this. Dungeoneering to turn an activating trap on an opponent, a flanked character Bluffing enemies into hitting each other, Acrobatics to turn a charge into a crazy handspringing-backflip craziness, Athletics to pick up a dude by the neck and throw him into a trap, Arcana to turn Magic Missile into a fireworks show, Nature to ride a lion, Intimidate to get the enemy to cower a bit, the possibilities go on and on.

    How many fights are you having in this arena? The first one could be against a team a little more experienced than the players, who know they need the audience on their side but aren't good at winning them over yet. Maybe they're moderately challenging enemies, but it's easy to steal their precious thunder and the players can win easily if they get the audience on their side. Then, pit the players against the rock stars of the trapped bloodsport circuit: great showmen who know all the traps by heart, with some powers that get them through traps without a lot of harm and turn audience favor on its head. The players should need to pull out all the creative stops they've got left to match this team's stunts and meet their trash-talk while also trying to kill them. It'll be glorious if your players are creative and cooperative.

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  • TofystedethTofystedeth Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    This is beginning to sound like a D&D version of Gladius.

    Which was fun.

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  • GnomeyGnomey Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Aegof wrote: »

    How many fights are you having in this arena?
    That would depend on how well the arena action goes over. I was planning on using it to introduce the players to the Dark Sun setting, creatures, and new rules of play (weapon breaking etc). They would start out as slaves or in indentured servitude and would be working in the arena as gladiators to work off the debt.
    I thought by throwing them into a battle under those circumstances early on, it could 1)give them a reason to know each other and allow for a group to form easily 2) provide an over all theme for future encounters, i.e. taking on additional quests outside of the arenas to earn their freedom more quickly which could lead to a very open ended adventure; but with all the awesome help i am getting here the players might opt to do more arena battles afterwards which I am very open to designing for them.

    Gnomey on
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  • GnomeyGnomey Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Just wanted to thank everyone who gave me some advice. Arena encounter went off without a hitch and the players seemed to really enjoy it/get into character with it. All your suggestions really helped keep it lively and also allowed me the option of adjusting the fight difficulty mid game. Thanks!

    Gnomey on
    Yes, I'm afraid we have no bananas.
  • PMAversPMAvers Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    This is beginning to sound like a D&D version of Gladius.

    Which was fun.

    I was thinking XCrawl, myself.

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