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[D&D 5E] For the first time in human history, an edition that's not about combat.

DenadaDenada Registered User regular
edited June 16 in Critical Failures
Dungeons & Dragons - which is now in its fifth edition - is one of the most beloved, most criticized, most played, and most argued-over tabletop RPG systems out there.

Everyone has their own opinion of what “real” D&D is. That’s stupid, because we already have an official example of Real D&D™:



If you are doing literally anything else, you are doing it wrong.

If you’re not sure about how to craft your own magical carnival ride (what insiders call a “campaign”), don’t look at the official D&D website, because it’s awful. Instead come to this thread, where millions of experienced Dungeon Masters are ready to give you expert advice on how to do things like:
  • Disguise the rails in your campaign so that players will think their choices matter.
  • Finally admit that D&D was designed with a grid in mind, and that using one makes combat easier to understand.
  • Ignore the rules so that you can create challenging, engaging encounters.
  • Figure out a way to make alignment interesting.
  • Learn that RP consequences are not a balancing mechanic and never will be.
  • Run that pirate-themed campaign you’ve been thinking about for a while that is totally not Pirates of the Caribbean.
  • Create your personal interpretation of Jack Sparrow for your friend's pirate campaign.
  • Recommend 13th Age or Dungeon World instead of D&D.
  • Build a Druid.
  • And more!

Denada on
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Posts

  • Lord_AsmodeusLord_Asmodeus goeticSobriquet: Here is your magical cryptic riddle-tumour: I AM A TIME MACHINERegistered User regular
    So, I'm playing a 13th age game on these here forums and enjoying it, but my interest in playing fantasy dudes burns strong and I've been thinking of getting into another game, but I've been considering playing a game of 5e to try it out (if I can find a game here, or if there's one on another forum I frequent). I've heard... mixed things about the new D&D edition, and I wanted to see how it held up. Are there any tips those here would give someone just dipping their toe into the new edition? Any pitfalls for a new player to avoid and that kind of thing?

    Lord_Asmodeus.gifLord_Asmodeus2.gif
  • JoshmviiJoshmvii Registered User regular
    13th Age is what D&D 5 would've been if WotC was actually trying to evolve 3 and 4E into the 21st century. So if you're already playing that, you're playing the better version of D&D. I say that as somebody who has been playing 5E for over two years now.

    I mean, 5E is not a terrible game or anything, it just doesn't really do anything other games don't do better.

    Aegeri
  • AegisAegis Not Quite TorontoRegistered User regular
    5e feels a lot like 3e, except I don't have to deal with Touch AC. So if you've played or seen 3/3.5 before, like, when I first saw the player's handbook and flipped through it, I was pretty much, "This...looks really familiar."

    Currently DMing: None right now! :(
    Characters
    [5e] Dural Melairkyn - AC 18 | HP 40 | Melee +4/1d8+2 | Spell +4/DC 12
    Steelhawk
  • GaddezGaddez Registered User regular
    Generally, I describe 5th as being like 2.5; it's what the game could have been if 3rd hadn't been so anal retentive with min maxing and redundant skills and multi-classing and other gobbledegook.

    Richy wrote: »
    But I think the resistance I’m getting more has to do with “rawr! Loklar said it! Rage!” than anything else.

    No, it has to do with the fact that you're done nothing but throw lies, blatant flasehoods, and downright dumb statements at us so far.
  • ElvenshaeElvenshae Registered User regular
    Repostah for the new thread:

    @Amaryl

    So, in a "recent" game I ran, the players mobilized most of the population of a small town and its outlying farms into a large militia / small army. There were some retired soldiers in the mix, and some caravan guards, and those became "veteran" units. Some of the hunters were skirmishers, they had some older kids / younger teens as slingers, etc.

    Each group was made up of 4-5 NPCs. At any time, a PC could attach to an NPC squad and take it over; the NPCs would then follow the players around, provide automatic assists when attacking and potential bonus damage dice, etc. The PC could detach at any time to let the NPCs do their own thing. NPC vs. NPC combat was handled by both sides doing average damage to each other to keep things moving.

    I represented the squads with a large mini base that had a colored ring to denote unit type, and a "topper" that represented the group thematically (e.g., an archer for the rangers group, a dwarf fighter-type for the caravan guards, etc.). When the PCs attached, I replaced the topper with the PC's miniature, and they were now a PC leading a gang of NPCs around.

    Worked pretty well, I think.

    omgbfz5lzi1s.png
    Steam: Elvenshae // PSN: Elvenshae // WotC: Elvenshae
    Saint JusticeQuantumTurkNipsShadowfire
  • Trajan45Trajan45 Registered User regular
    Hi all,

    Our group is looking to start playing D&D. Most of us have played video game versions (baldur's gate, planescape, etc) and listened to podcasts/youtube but we've never run through a tabletop version ourselves. I see that they have a starter set but it looks like it's all pre-generated characters to help folks get used to playing tabletop RPGs. I was thinking we might be past that (I know my friends want to create their own characters). Poking around the official site has quite a bit of stuff, I have some questions if folks could help me understand.

    1) Do I need all the handbooks?
    2) Is there a resource for story ideas? I see WotC has some 5e story packs for $50, how long do those run? Are they worth it?
    3) Watching Acquisitions Incorporated, are miniatures a good idea? Seems like it could get very expensive.
    4) Any thoughts around Fantasy Grounds? Seems pretty cool, but is it helpful if everyone is around the table?
    5) Any other resources I should look into? Any digital resources that I could load on an ipad or something to help things run smoother?

    Thanks for any help!

    Origin ID\ Steam ID: Warder45
  • JoshmviiJoshmvii Registered User regular
    edited July 2016
    I would recommend buying nothing but the starter set, because the adventure that comes in it "Lost Mines of Phandelver" is very good. You can find out how you feel about the game without buying all the books. You can use the SRD material that's free online to make your own characters if you don't want to use the pre-gens.

    As for your questions:

    1) If you're going to play the game a lot, you would want a player's handbook, and the DM would want the dungeon master's guide and the monster manual.
    2) The campaigns they've put out typically run from like level 3-15, they're only worth it if you plan to run them. They vary in quality, and playstyle.
    3) Minis and a map are good for a visual, and depending on the types of players you have, they may feel necessary. I consider them mandatory for playing the game in a way that doesn't get annoying fast.
    4) Don't use fantasy grounds if everybody is around the table. It's only worth the price for people who have to play remotely, and even then, while it has some cool functionality i'd recommend roll20 over fantasy grounds anyway for long distance games.
    5) There are tons of good resources out there. I'll throw a few really useful ones in a post a bit later on, I'm pressed for time at the moment.

    Joshmvii on
    Trajan45Elvenshae
  • GaddezGaddez Registered User regular
    Strictly speaking, about half of the books out there aren't neccessary, though I would suggest picking up The players hand book (since it covers everything you need to build characters and the spell lists; you may want to have a couple of these on hand for quick referencing) the monster manual (this gives you a plethora of monsters that are gtg) and DM's guide (Good for new players mostly, but it does provide useful information on everything from how to handle loot to running atypical settings like ones with laser guns).

    That having been said, Sword Coast adventurers guide is a really useful mini-guide to the forgotten realms and has a handful of other character options that are interesting to say the least.

    Richy wrote: »
    But I think the resistance I’m getting more has to do with “rawr! Loklar said it! Rage!” than anything else.

    No, it has to do with the fact that you're done nothing but throw lies, blatant flasehoods, and downright dumb statements at us so far.
  • JoshmviiJoshmvii Registered User regular
    Alright, here are the online resources I think are the most useful of all the ones I use.

    http://kobold.club/fight/#/encounter-builder

    This is an encounter builder where you can easily see where a fight falls in the easy->deadly exp thresholds based on your party level and number of PCs. It just does the math for you from the DMG, and since 5E insists on using the obnoxious CR/exp threshold system, it makes life way easier.

    http://ephe.github.io/grimoire/

    This is just a clean tool that has all the spells for 5E in it, very useful for quick reference instead of searching through a book.

    http://fantasygen.herokuapp.com/#/markovChain

    Not specific to 5E, but it's a name generator that somebody made and posted recently on the /r/rpg subreddit, and it's pretty fantastic. You can build new generation types on the first tab using the markov chain, or you can just use the stuff that's already on there.

    Trajan45SteelhawkMoridin889JustTee
  • Trajan45Trajan45 Registered User regular
    Thanks! That first link seems intense. What are deadly exp thresholds? Also CR/Exp threshold system?

    2 more questions,

    1) Some of the folks have played tabletop rpg's before, not D&D, I think maybe pathfinder. But they are used to making "colorful" characters or characters with personality. Is that something they can still do with the starter set?

    2) I'm probably going to DM the game, any tools or tips for me?

    Origin ID\ Steam ID: Warder45
    El Skid
  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    edited July 2016
    1) Really depends on if they want mechanical back up for it. Backgrounds offers some of this and I'll let Josh talk about how much is in the starter set but that's about it even in the PHB. They are a couple skills and a kind of open ended benefit that fits the background.

    2) Remember the goal isn't to play D&D "properly", it's to have fun with friends. Pay attention to what each person likes/dislikes and try and make sure you cover folks time wise.

    DevoutlyApathetic on
  • JoshmviiJoshmvii Registered User regular
    edited July 2016
    Alright, I just realized I just threw stuff at you that's not anything you need to worry about yet. CR is a system that tells you very very very generally how offensively/defensively powerful a monster is. It's an average of offense/defense so the same two creatures can share a CR and have very different stats, but ultimately that's the idea. It's not nearly as good as something like say 13th Age uses where monsters have levels and make way more sense, but it is what you get if you play 5E.

    Exp threshold relates to how hard a fight is, but is still suitably confusing. Deadly fights(unless they're waaaaay above the threshold) are not at all deadly if a party just came off a long rest and has all their tools to unload like spells and such. If you start playing this game long term, you'll find a "per day" exp threshold that basically tells you how many fights a party should be expected to fight in a single day between long rests. It's about 4-5 medium difficulty encounters, 3ish deadly ones, 6-8 if you sprinkle in some really easy ones. It's not very intuitive, but it does work well enough if you put in the effort.

    1) D&D 5 doesn't have a great amount of support for a character's personality. The personality traits/bonds/flaws system is a joke compared to games that really care about this stuff, but as ever with D&D, if your players are adept roleplayers and don't need the system to really support their creativity, they can go nuts and make as colorful a character as they want. The mechanics of D&D are 90% about killing monsters and taking their stuff, as always. Many groups(mine included) have done more with it with the system not giving any help over the years, but it is what it is.

    As for the starter set, if you're not going to use the pre-gen characters, you can just use the SRD which has not all but most of the material from the PHB. I think each class has only one archetype, so all fighters are champions, they can't make the eldritch knight or battlemaster when hitting level 3, etc., but the background stuff should be in there.

    2) The kobold fight club tool I linked above is super useful for building encounters, but if you plan to use the starter set, you wouldn't need it yet.

    Here's a wonderful tool if you have a nonstandard party size running phandelver. It lets you enter how many PCs, what levels they are, and which part of the starter set adventure you're on and tweaks the encounters for you: http://haluz.org/lmop/index.php

    Also, for GM help, there are a lot of resources, but if you have the time and inclination, these will make you a better GM, guaranteed:

    Being Everything Else:



    This is Adam Koebel(co-creator of Dungeon World) and Steven Lumpkin(video game designer and GM for many Rollplay games on the itmejp youtube/twitch) discussing a whole slew of GMing topics.

    Running the Game:



    Matt Colville, a relative newcomer to the youtube scene but experienced DM and video game writer discussing GMing topics for new GMs, but there's some useful stuff in there for veterans too. This one is pretty specific to D&D so is helpful in that way if you're going to run this game.

    The Angry GM: http://theangrygm.com/

    The "character" the angry gm uses to write the blog is a parody of one true wayists, and can be annoying at times, but the advice here is phenomenal if you don't mind reading it in the voice of the character.

    Joshmvii on
    Trajan45ElvenshaeDajian
  • GaddezGaddez Registered User regular
    Trajan45 wrote: »
    Thanks! That first link seems intense. What are deadly exp thresholds? Also CR/Exp threshold system?

    2 more questions,

    1) Some of the folks have played tabletop rpg's before, not D&D, I think maybe pathfinder. But they are used to making "colorful" characters or characters with personality. Is that something they can still do with the starter set?

    2) I'm probably going to DM the game, any tools or tips for me?
    Trajan45 wrote: »
    Thanks! That first link seems intense. What are deadly exp thresholds? Also CR/Exp threshold system?

    2 more questions,

    1) Some of the folks have played tabletop rpg's before, not D&D, I think maybe pathfinder. But they are used to making "colorful" characters or characters with personality. Is that something they can still do with the starter set?

    2) I'm probably going to DM the game, any tools or tips for me?

    Regarding CR/EXP thresholds: The base idea for monster level is that a level 1 monster is roughly equal to 4 level 1 players. This system isn't perfect (a dire wolf can put a serious hurt on a level 1 party and the intellect devourer is... yeah), but it's a good way of getting things started.

    1) while Some may scoff at 5th as a system for building interesting characters, the background system is fairly clever IMHO; if you go with it as prescribed (two traits, one bond, one flaw) you can get idea's spinning real fast in your head so that Bonk club man becomes Ashla Mason, an enforcer for a local theives guild who is always looking over every new place for valuables, gets pissed off at the smallest insult, refuses to dick over other guild members, uses his stolen loot to help out his family and would rather take the money and run then help out his friends.

    2) my suggestion is to start off easy; build a simple encounter (assuming you aren't using published materials) that involves something like having the party fight goblins or bandits at their hide out with a handful of rooms, some loot, a few secrets and maybe a neat thing (minor magic item, suit of armor ect.)

    It won't be the most amazing encounter, but it will let you and your players get used to the system and give you an idea for what they want (RP, Tactical battles, puzzles opportunities to min-max ect.) as well as what you want to do as a GM.

    Richy wrote: »
    But I think the resistance I’m getting more has to do with “rawr! Loklar said it! Rage!” than anything else.

    No, it has to do with the fact that you're done nothing but throw lies, blatant flasehoods, and downright dumb statements at us so far.
  • Trajan45Trajan45 Registered User regular
    You guys rock, I'll spend some time looking through this.

    Origin ID\ Steam ID: Warder45
  • webguy20webguy20 Registered User regular
    Yea I just read the angry GM's newest article on NPCs and holy fuck, so insightful. It literally changed how I thought about the whole process.

    Steam ID: Webguy20
    Origin ID: Discgolfer27
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    Joshmvii
  • never dienever die Registered User regular
    Trajan45 wrote: »
    Thanks! That first link seems intense. What are deadly exp thresholds? Also CR/Exp threshold system?

    2 more questions,

    1) Some of the folks have played tabletop rpg's before, not D&D, I think maybe pathfinder. But they are used to making "colorful" characters or characters with personality. Is that something they can still do with the starter set?

    2) I'm probably going to DM the game, any tools or tips for me?

    The only thing I can think to add for you that others haven't covered is that if some of the players have been playing Pathfinder before, then they should pick up D&D 5e pretty quickly, as Pathfinder is a deriviative of an earlier version of D&D. A lot of the mechanics are similar but simplified, making the process a lot quicker and easier to resolve. It doesn't sound like your players are number crunchers so it shouldn't be a big deal.

    As for videos and tips for running games, I've enjoyed Matt Mercer's take on it as well, and there is a couple of things I've learned from watching him GM/watching his GM Tips.

    Here's a link to his GM Tips as well:

    I think this is the most important thing that people forget about US government. Moses didn't come down Mt Rushmore with the Bill of Rights on a tablet from God.
    Joshmvii
  • JoshmviiJoshmvii Registered User regular
    webguy20 wrote: »
    Yea I just read the angry GM's newest article on NPCs and holy fuck, so insightful. It literally changed how I thought about the whole process.

    Yeah, the character he writes as can be too abrasive for some readers, and he does get a bit too verbose explaining where he's coming from at times, but his blog has been responsible for some drastic improvements in my GMing.

    These are some of my favorite "running your game articles he's written"

    http://theangrygm.com/jumping-the-screen-how-to-run-your-first-rpg-session/

    That one would be the best first one to read for @Trajan45 since it's about running your first session.

    http://theangrygm.com/manage-combat-like-a-dolphin/

    This one about how to narrate combat in a way that's greatly descriptive and fun but doesn't waste a lot of time.

    http://theangrygm.com/how-to-talk-to-players-the-art-of-narration/

    This one about scene narration and transitions, and how you can give great descriptions that aren't reading 5 minutes of box texts like prepublished adventures would lead you to believe you should.

    Elvenshaewebguy20
  • webguy20webguy20 Registered User regular
    Those are some great articles. That first time GM one is great. Wish I had read that when I started.

    Steam ID: Webguy20
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    Untappd ID: Discgolfer1981
    Elvenshaenever dieJoshmvii
  • never dienever die Registered User regular
    I read through the first time GM one and I did find I generally agreed with his instructions. I am a big fan of the mini-campaign/ multiple one-offs to get used to running a game and dealing with players. I was a big proponent of that precisely because I was not able to learn that way. I was suddenly the storyteller in a Call of Cthulhu campaign when our previous storyteller decided he couldn't handle the stress of running it while having the hectic semester he was having in college, and asked me to run it (a mix of being slightly willing and having a better grasp on the rules than half of the other players). It was fun, but terrifying. I ended up running Pathfinder the same way, our previous game ended and no one else wanted to pick up running it, so I volunteered and set down to learn all the rules. I was jumbling around and trying to navigate disparate, conflicting voices of players with very different demands in mind. It got to the point where I almost quit doing it because I was just expected to know all this crap and few people were willing to teach me. Luckily my players and I clicked and found our groove together, but trial by fire is the worst way to learn.

    The mini-campaign or multiple one-offs is a great way to learn. Let everyone know going into it that its a learning session and you can have lots of fun, and its understood that you'll make mistakes and the players will make mistakes (if they are new to the system especially). When my wife first learned how to run a game I died in the first session (but saved through literal dues ex machina) because she through too hard of an encounter at our level 1 characters. And that's fine. You are going to make mistakes, and its cool. Like he says in the article, if your players are new they are unlikely to notice, and if they are not they are going to cut you some slack (especially if they have GM'ed before). You will learn from the mistakes and will know if this is something you want to do or not.

    Also, modules can be fun, and I wish the groups I had played with had not had such a stigma against them so I would have tried them out sooner. As a new GM, more than anything else, it takes the stress off of you. You don't have to create a whole new world and pick out which creatures they are gonna fight, figure out the quest rewards, etc. All you have to do is manage the game and players. I've posted in here a lot about the Curse of Strahd (a horror setting module, a lot of fun but kind of intense for a new group to run through) campaign I'm running, and I've had so much fun not having to calculate out every little thing the players are gonna need to face and create the main antagonists from scratch.

    At its most basic if you want to get the feel of the mechanics, run the most basic of encounters; a small group of goblins. Its got the image of the starting adventure built into it, and they are great to fight without being too threatening so the chances of horrible mishap is lower. When I ran my first session of DnD 5e after coming from Pathfinder, it was the very first group of enemies my players fought as well.

    Oh! Something I don't remember seeing mentioned, but I feel is going to be very important if you really get into the GM side of it and start creating your own adventures, enemies, encounters, etc., is save everything you make. You never know when you will need it again or might be able to use something you created. You'll find that often players will go one direction when you thought they would go another and so sometimes stuff you build or create might not get used. If you save that encounter, adventure, enemy, or what have you it allows you to pull it up later and tweak it to fit a different circumstance. I have recycled a lot of my own stuff I have created when it didn't fit what was happening, or when I needed to create an enemy and a villain I had created that was similar to what I wanted so I took the base work and changed it. At the very least, you can go over something you created and think back to what worked and didn't work in the encounter or villain you made and take notes from that to try and make your next one better.

    I think this is the most important thing that people forget about US government. Moses didn't come down Mt Rushmore with the Bill of Rights on a tablet from God.
    Rainfall
  • webguy20webguy20 Registered User regular
    edited July 2016
    Also a big one that he brings up is rulebook usage. He is so incredibly spot on there that it hurts. We follow the rule of the GM makes the decision on the fly and then the players can look it up between sessions and provide clarification then. As a GM 99% of the time I usually end up ruling in favor of the PCs, on some of the more outrageous requests usually I just remind them that if they are allowed to do it, so am I. (This usually comes up in regards to sneak attacks, flanking, advantage and other kinds of bonuses) and we move forward.

    The biggest issues my players and I have is not knowing the rules well enough. We usually jump between systems every few months so sometimes the more esoteric rules that come up we don't end up remembering. In the end it usually works out. I mostly favor my players, because they aren't for the most part min/maxers looking to break the game, just folks looking to have fun so if they end up doing something cool that thwarts my plan? More power to em.

    An example in the Curse of Straud campaign I'm a player in is that we have a wild mage who has found a suppliment with 10000 effects for wild magic. It's pretty funny and the DM and player have agreed if an effect is too crazy that the DM will veto it and the player will re-roll. So anyways we are in this combat, and it is a tough combat but we are making headway, and the Mage's wild magic goes off, and ends up turning the enemy into a little marble statue. It was great.

    Spoilers for specifics
    We were in the first town in the campaign, and had just went to the church to bury the dead mayor. We were talking to the "priest" when we heard yelling. We barged in and pretty much intimidated the priest into telling us he had locked his son in the basement due to some sort of issue. We strong arm him down there with us (while the whole time the priest is going No! No! No!) and find out his son was turned into a vampire or something of the sort. We entered combat and were doing some serious damage but so was he. When the mage turned him into a statue I was able to persuade the priest that we had done it on purpose, and that until we could break the curse this was a way for his son to be safe without killing him and it keeps the townsfolk safe as well. It worked great and we gained an ally, and someone who was able to reverse the last wild magic effect on the mage of extra long forearms. He was really happy to get his normal arms back, though the player had RPed it REALLY well the last couple sessions.

    The nicest thing is playing with a group of mostly well adjusted adults. In the 5 years of gaming with most of these folks we've had no big issues at the table. It is goddamn magical. A new couple started playing last year and they've fit right in. I don't know what I'd do if this group fell apart.

    webguy20 on
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  • FryFry Registered User regular
    I'm currently playing a wild mage, and just the default table in the PH is...interesting. On a long enough timeline, eventually you will grow to an enormous size (since the "height change" effect has a larger average growth than shrink). On the other hand, on a long enough timeline, you'll die of old age (since the "age change" effect makes you older on average).

    I think I've had wild surges four times so far. Two of the times they were minor effects that happened near the end of a fight, so it wasn't a big deal. But twice I rolled "cast magic missile as a 5th level spell" and it decided a fight for us.

    Still waiting on "fireball centered on yourself." :P

  • JoshmviiJoshmvii Registered User regular
    No joke, in my D&D game that's currently going, in the first session the wild mage did the fireball centered on himself on the first wild magic surge of the game. I started them at level 3 instead of 1, so it didn't result in a party wipe, but man it was just like seriously?

    I personally hate the design of the wild mage in 5E, because as it's written wild magic will hardly ever trigger without GM fiat, as the one where you get tides of chaos back in exchange for a guaranteed surge is pure GM fiat, but eh, what can you do.

    What you can do is play the chaos mage from 13th Age which handles the unpredictable mage angle perfectly, but this isn't the thread for that. =)

  • webguy20webguy20 Registered User regular
    Joshmvii wrote: »
    No joke, in my D&D game that's currently going, in the first session the wild mage did the fireball centered on himself on the first wild magic surge of the game. I started them at level 3 instead of 1, so it didn't result in a party wipe, but man it was just like seriously?

    I personally hate the design of the wild mage in 5E, because as it's written wild magic will hardly ever trigger without GM fiat, as the one where you get tides of chaos back in exchange for a guaranteed surge is pure GM fiat, but eh, what can you do.

    What you can do is play the chaos mage from 13th Age which handles the unpredictable mage angle perfectly, but this isn't the thread for that. =)

    Our DM rolls a D20 for tides of chaos every time the wild mage has a turn and if he rolls a 1 the tides of chaos triggers. Makes it a lot easier to deal with and removes the DM fiat aspect, which is annoying.

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  • JoshmviiJoshmvii Registered User regular
    Yeah, I mean you can make up new rules to make it work better, I just wish it didn't require the DM and players to hack the game to work reasonably well. Of course, "I wish it didn't require the DM and players to hack the game to work reasonably well" is pretty much my entire opinion on D&D at this point, heh.

    Meanwhile, I'm about to go custom create a monster for my next D&D session using angry GM's custom hack for monsters with multiple parts that my PCs can attack with called shots. =)

  • Vincent GraysonVincent Grayson Frederick, MDRegistered User regular
    Man, that combination of fomorian and shambling mound really worked out well. I softened them up first with a fight with a bunch of corpses puppeted by the fungus (as a few types of myconids, mechanically, and I added explosive spores on death for fun), and then they fought maybe one of their longest battles yet against this thing. Amping up the "evil eye" attack to be a legendary action or whatever they're called really fucked with them. Lots of damage to the party from that, and the barbarian grappler got pretty well neutralized after getting engulfed. No character deaths, but one guy went down towards the end, and there were several very close calls if not for some timely heals.

    Now to start work on a legit dungeon, which we haven't done in a long time, as the party is quite near the ruins of the last elven city in this world, and there's a very eager lich-like ranger ready to drive some adventurers inside and hunt them.

    never dieElvenshaeJoshmviiAegisNealneal
  • FryFry Registered User regular
    I tend to forget I even have Tides of Chaos, so I don't use it, so the DM can't recharge it. When I do remember to use it, my DM seems to be good about doing the surge + recharge when it would potentially make a scene more interesting, and he doesn't seem to recharge it if I've already had a wild surge that session, etc. Though who knows, maybe one day I will keep using Tides of Chaos and it will keep being interesting for wild surges to go off!

  • Emperor_ZEmperor_Z Registered User regular
    edited July 2016
    I'm nearing the end of my first adventure as a DM, and I'm looking for some feedback on a final encounter. The party just killed the BBEG (which went... okay. I could have designed that fight better), but they are now approaching the true final boss of the adventure, which is against an insane unicorn guarding a sacred shrine that the party must access. He kicked their asses earlier in the campaign, but the party is now armed with more knowledge and the help of an NPC spellcaster (a pixie with some extra druid spells and a boosted spell save). The party consists of two fighters, a ranger (beastmaster, but his companion is dead right now), a sorcerer, and a moon druid, all level 4

    The fight consists of three phases

    Phase 1: The Unicorn fights with the normal MM stats, alongside two or three blink dogs that survived the previous fight and two Awakened Trees.
    The NPC assists freely in this phase

    Phase 2: The unicorn prays to the shrine, filling him with energy but destabilizing the shrine. Nearby players must make a strength save (DC13) to avoid being knocked 10 feet back and prone. On a successful save, players are knocked back 5 feet.
    In this phase, the unicorn has more health and can teleport at will, and will do so to allow himself to charge and to summon beasts from the forest for help (example summon: two brown bears). After summoning for help two or three times, his summons will no longer be heeded.
    The NPC will move stabilize the shrine, partially removing her from the fight. She can still cast the occasional spell if the party needs the help.

    Phase 3: The unicorn will get back up on his turn with low HP and perform a single weakened hoof attack. The party must restrain him while a ritual that stabilizes the shrine is performed. Occasionally, with a one turn warning, knockback shock waves will emanate from the shrine, with a DC13 strength save (though other party members can help with this save), partially disrupting those performing the ritual. The unicorn continues to revive, with more HP and more/stronger attacks each time, but reviving less frequently, with indication that he is taxing himself to the point of death. If the shrine is not stabilized, he will die, which is not an ideal outcome. I need to work out the numbers for this phase

    It seems hard, but the party's wrecked almost every encounter I've thrown at them, they'll be fully rested, and there are factors that allow me to do some dynamic difficulty adjustment. Also, if the party's sorcerer thinks it through, he can convert one or both of the Awakened Trees to his side via Suggestion (though he will need to learn the translation of his Suggestion command from his ally, as it has been previously established that these Awakened Trees speak Druidic). He's been itching to use Suggestion on something after a whole adventure of fighting beasts and monsters, and it won't work on the unicorn itself, so hopefully he can figure that one out

    I've had some dud encounters in the past, so I'm curious as to what others think

    Emperor_Z on
    never die
  • JoshmviiJoshmvii Registered User regular
    It sounds like an interesting encounter. I'm wondering what you're using to cause the phase changes? Or are you just changing phases when the PCs knock out all the HP from the unicorn each time?

  • Emperor_ZEmperor_Z Registered User regular
    edited July 2016
    Yeah, nothing too fancy there

    Emperor_Z on
  • JoshmviiJoshmvii Registered User regular
    Nothing wrong with keeping it simple. If you weren't planning on having other creatures involved I'd worry they'll burn through the phases faster than you'd like, but you seem to have that covered.

    I'd consider if you haven't having the environmental effects work like lair actions, so they occur on initiative 20, just so it's codified and you don't have to arbitrarily remember when to have them trigger.

  • FryFry Registered User regular
    edited July 2016
    Oh yeah, my Wild Mage dinged 7. Any hot picks for 4th level sorcerer spells? I already have Web and Haste (possibly twinned) vying for my concentration, and Fireball for making things go boom.

    - Confusion seems good as an AOE disable, though it does require concentration
    - Greater Invisibility is probably good, but I think the bard is already planning on taking it, so I don't want to double up
    - Ice Storm does less damage than Fireball, but adds a minor terrain control effect for one round. Meh?
    - Polymorph probably allows shenanigans, but I don't have a Monster Manual and I don't want to acquire or lug one around
    - Wall of Fire seems like a decent damage + terrain control hybrid, requires concentration
    - Vitriolic Sphere (EE) is a slightly bigger boom than a Fireball

    Are there other good 4th level sorc spells I've discounted? Maybe something from 3rd level I should pick up, and just upsize a Fireball with the 4th level slot?

    Fry on
  • AistanAistan Registered User regular
    edited July 2016
    Turns out it's a bad idea to pick a fight with a ghost when you're level 1! We got through it ok though.

    Then the next day we investigate another location and I sense some undead, again, and charge in, again. I feel bad for railroading the party into these situations but a paladin gotta paladin. If it were anything but undead i'd hang back and have a discussion how to proceed, but...

    Aistan on
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    Elvenshae
  • never dienever die Registered User regular
    Fry wrote: »
    Oh yeah, my Wild Mage dinged 7. Any hot picks for 4th level sorcerer spells? I already have Web and Haste (possibly twinned) vying for my concentration, and Fireball for making things go boom.

    - Confusion seems good as an AOE disable, though it does require concentration
    - Greater Invisibility is probably good, but I think the bard is already planning on taking it, so I don't want to double up
    - Ice Storm does less damage than Fireball, but adds a minor terrain control effect for one round. Meh?
    - Polymorph probably allows shenanigans, but I don't have a Monster Manual and I don't want to acquire or lug one around
    - Wall of Fire seems like a decent damage + terrain control hybrid, requires concentration
    - Vitriolic Sphere (EE) is a slightly bigger boom than a Fireball

    Are there other good 4th level sorc spells I've discounted? Maybe something from 3rd level I should pick up, and just upsize a Fireball with the 4th level slot?

    I like Confusion, you already have a good blast in fireball and I've not as big of a fan as others for Ice Storm. confusion will lead to some fun shenanigans and is a good battlefield control.

    I think this is the most important thing that people forget about US government. Moses didn't come down Mt Rushmore with the Bill of Rights on a tablet from God.
  • JoshmviiJoshmvii Registered User regular
    For 4th level Sorc spells:

    I'd take Greater Invis, Wall of Fire, or Polymorph depending on whether you want advantage for an ally's attacks, zone control+damage, or a ton of free stats/HP. If you cast Poly on somebody else and turn them into a T-Rex and just hang back protecting your concentration, it's by far the most powerful 4th level spell.

    Rainfall
  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    Don't forget Banishment. Basically a kill spell against demons/devils/whatever from other planes and "only" a complete disable against everything else. If you're fighting two bad ass monsters realize that fighting one by itself and then the other by itself is way way easier than fighting both of them at once.

    Greater Invis is both a defensive spell for personal safety and an offensive spell if you cast it on somebody who makes a bunch of attack rolls.

    Moridin889
  • BrodyBrody Cabot CoveRegistered User regular
    Joshmvii wrote: »
    Nothing wrong with keeping it simple. If you weren't planning on having other creatures involved I'd worry they'll burn through the phases faster than you'd like, but you seem to have that covered.

    I'd consider if you haven't having the environmental effects work like lair actions, so they occur on initiative 20, just so it's codified and you don't have to arbitrarily remember when to have them trigger.

    Also, if you've previously had issues with them destroying encounters you expected to be a little harder, go through and pick out a couple of difficulties of backup, and start about where you anticipate needing them, then throw in a stronger/weaker second set based on how they handled the first. If they destroy the first set, and the second set is harder, its just because the response is escalating. If they struggle with the first set, and the second set is easier, its because they've handled the crack team, and now are taking on the second string.

    Moridin889
  • Emperor_ZEmperor_Z Registered User regular
    edited July 2016
    Don't forget Banishment. Basically a kill spell against demons/devils/whatever from other planes and "only" a complete disable against everything else. If you're fighting two bad ass monsters realize that fighting one by itself and then the other by itself is way way easier than fighting both of them at once.

    Greater Invis is both a defensive spell for personal safety and an offensive spell if you cast it on somebody who makes a bunch of attack rolls.

    I have a question that relates to Banishment. How do fey creatures normally move between planes? Do they do it the same way normal creatures do, by walking through occasionally-opening gates (the DM guide uses a circle of mushrooms as an example of this) or by using spells and portals?

    I was reading through the unicorn's spell list and realized he has Dispel Evil and Good, which has a usage that is very similar to Banishment. If he managed to dismiss the pixie NPC, what would she have to do to come back?

    Fortunately, I think the fact that the Dismissal use is a melee spell attack allows me to avoid the issue entirely, since the pixie can fly out of reach

    Emperor_Z on
  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    Traditionally Pixie's are a bit like elves and are native to the "normal" world. They did separate out the Feywild as it's own plane and if they were actually from there they could be dispelled but I wouldn't assume a run of the mill pixie could be. Really depends on the choices of your world.

  • BrodyBrody Cabot CoveRegistered User regular
    Also, as the DM, you could just choose to not use that move/spell?

  • ArdentArdent Skyline Ranger UndergroundRegistered User regular
    Angry GM could be insightful, but honestly he picks some really stupid hills to die on.

    I haven't run 5e combat, so I can't speak to its speed (or lack thereof), but in general the speed of combat is normally tied directly to the system being used to run it. If that system is relatively simple (one roll, for example) combat is at a pace dictated by THE GROUP because some players will ponder longer on tactical decisions than others, who may take longer to describe actions than others. None of which is bad.

    I try to encourage my players to think about the battleground in their head as everyone acts so that when its their turn they have some idea of what they want to do.

    But man, blaming everything on the GM with regard to combat speed is just ignorant.

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