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[D&D] Adventurers that Play Together Stay Together

clearsimpleplainclearsimpleplain Registered User
edited March 2009 in Critical Failures
I'm DMing for the first time in my adult life, and I've run into a couple problems. Forgive me if I'm not supposed to be asking this here, but I really have no idea where else to ask. If anyone could throw me some links to established DM forums, I could direct any further questions there.

But my first question is pretty general and I think could apply to a lot of DMs.

1) How do you get your party members to care about each other?
After brainstorming a few party origin stories, I settled on one that brings the five strangers that make up my players together. While they all have different reasons for being there, the overall end goal for them is the same for the first few adventures, which are staying pretty linear provided that the PCs take my hooks. This is where my problems come in.

If I appeal to the PCs with a hook for treasure, I get half the party interested but the other half is contented to wander the village/city/wilderness looking for someone who needs some more virtuous help than just aiding them in recovering their wagon filled with goods or find a sacred magic artifact in the beholder lair. If I appeal to their good Samaritan heartstrings with a crying peasant boy who's lost in a goblin cave or a village under attack by Orcs, half the party want to charge to the rescue where the other half wants to move on.

This doesn't lead to debates or discussions among the PCs; it leads to, typically, them going separate ways agreeing to meet up later to accomplish the ultimate goal I laid out for them further down the line.

Most of the problem stems from the fact that my party is a group of individuals who are putting their own interests first. I'm starting to turn it around a bit by finding ways through my adventure to underline the fact that to do anything, they need one another, but having every hook met with begrudging acceptance from half the party is tough. So how could one turn this behavior around? Make the PCs feel indebted to each other somehow, respect each other, want to help their comrades out when they feel they have to do something for what they perceive is the greater good?

That's a pretty huge question. Let's get to my last one, which is simple.

2) (v3.5) How do you increase a monster's difficulty?
I'm playing 3.5, and the campaign has led the party to what I consider the climax of my first string of adventures; a city of dwarves that's been overrun by goblins. The problem is that goblins have a 1/3 CR, and my level 1 PCs have been absolutely destroying groups of 5-8 monsters with 1/2-1 CRs. According to , 3 enemies with a 1/2 CR should be "Very Difficult", but we're finding it insanely easy. How am I going to make Goblins, who have a 1/3 CR, hard? It reads in the entry that you encounter a few goblin sergeants and leaders of a higher level; how do I determine the stats for these monsters?

Alright, that's it. Thanks in advance for the help.

clearsimpleplain on


  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    1) It really depends on the goal of the players themselves. If they are looking to express their individuality, then no amount of convincing will deter them from this route. I always suggest having a feedback meeting after or before each session to go over the previous session and point out what went well and what could be improved. Open communication is key. It's important to segregate this from the actual play of the game, so that players have a bit of time to reflect and think about it rather than disrupting the flow of the game. Maybe they LIKE having separate party members who do different things, even if you do not. Maybe they enjoy your talents at juggling their interests. Or maybe they feel the same way as you do, but they cannot see a way to broach it with the rest of the group during the game session. The thing is, you will never know until you ask.

    The best way to reinforce behavior that you want: tangible positive rewards. An XP bonus every now and then for things that you want to see, or perhaps in-character gold or magic items will have the players going for the carrot every time.

    2) Play the Goblins cunningly, rather than as a combat encounter. Have them retreat and feint into an area, and when bloodthirsty PCs charge at them, they trigger a simple bear trap or net. Use disabling tactics on the weakest party members (net traps at the guy with the lowest Reflex save, Hold Person on the guy with the lowest Will save). Use Poison. Concentrate fire from several archers on a single target. Give each of them a vile and disgusting potion that doesn't work on other humanoids, but heals the goblins. Have a goblin bard or cleric buffing the group.

    With 3.5 edition, you can "level up" the monsters, too, although this technically increases their CR. Just tack on the bonuses for one level of Fighter/Warrior. Or if you are mean, one level of Barbarian and give them barbaric rage.

    Hahnsoo1 on
    PSN: Hahnsoo | MHGU: Hahnsoo, Switch FC: SW-0085-2679-5212
  • UtsanomikoUtsanomiko Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    If half your party's goal is finding challenges leading to treasure, and the other half's goal is helping the needy by defeating challenges, the most dirdct solution would be combine the two into a single quest: find someone who needs help defeating a challenge that leads to treasure. Rich people in distress and going to dangerous places for those in need, basically.

    A rich Count's castle is under siege; a dragon terrorizes a city from his nearby gold-filled lair; a wizard pays you to recapture his magical tower from monsters, orcs have taken treasure and captives, and so on.

    Can't help you with the 3rd edition-style monsters; I stick with 4e, whose enemies tend to less likely be glass cannons.

    Utsanomiko on
  • fadingathedgesfadingathedges Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I have some thoughts:

    -If your players are split between where to go, just be like "Ok here's what we'll do, each side can appoint someone to argue for their side. Make a Diplomacy check and the winning team makes the decision." Tell them there will be +2's abound for good ideas and convincing roleplay. If it's close, you can do a ghetto version of a 4e skillcheck if you feel like it, which basically boils down to "best 2 out of 3... no best 3 out of 5!" etc. Ideally this will lead away from the dice and more into the two factions arguing out a compromise (tell them it's an option. be real offhand.), which is pretty much them doing what you want, I would think. They'll need to listen to each other.

    -For balancing: 3.5 is kinda weak in that area. You will get the feel for doing it both in prep and then adjusting on the fly. Don't be afraid to just do whatever and change as you need to. The only real danger there is when you are obviously ramping up or handing it to them ("wait, I thought an 18 missed?" etc)
    Having more monsters join the fight is a good, simple mechanic if the PC's have it too easy. Add traps. Traps are great.

    Make the goblin encounter designed to be impossible without cooperation. A pit trap shaped like an inverted cone that the player can't get out of alone, mid fight. A reward clearly most useful to one character but can only be accessed/retrieved by another. Have a couple burlier goblins grapple one player while another goblin punches/stabs, and the others have to free him. You can't force them to love, but maybe you can start with maybe a little gratitude :)

    fadingathedges on
  • ArcanisTheImpotentArcanisTheImpotent Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    well, as for getting players to care? simple meta solution: create a group template. you may listen to Fear the Boot and have heard this term before. basically, sit down together and create the characters together. establish links before play begins between the characters, and your problems are solved.

    if they don't want to do that, then fuck those guys. make them do it anyway.

    ArcanisTheImpotent on
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