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Made in us
Thermo-Optical Tuareg






Nashville, TN

Cool. Whoever DMs usually paints the NPCs and monsters if it's not in the usual store of painted stuff we have. I'm running a game soon so will be painting a lot of new stuff. I'll get some shots next big layout we have. Our current DM has been partial to maps lately so it may be a while.

"Holy Sh*&, you've opened my eyes and changed my mind about this topic, thanks Dakka OT!"

-Nobody Ever

Proverbs 18:2

"CHEESE!" is the battlecry of the ill-prepared.

 warboss wrote:

GW didn't mean to hit your wallet and I know they love you, baby. I'm sure they won't do it again so it's ok to purchase and make up.


Albatross wrote:I think SlaveToDorkness just became my new hero.

EmilCrane wrote:Finecast is the new Matt Ward.

Don't mess with the Blade and Bolter! 
   
Made in de
Battlefield Tourist






Nuremberg

Hey, whenever you get a chance would be awesome. I've rarely seen anything with those kits at a "real" gaming table, so I'd just be fascinated by them. The temptation to pick them up is always there but I find dungeon tiles fiddly enough, so I worry that Dwarven Forge would drive me crazy.

I'm thinking of pulling out the tiles and 2.5D props for a big battle my group are planning to have with a beholder and a lot of his minions soon, so I'll try and photograph that too

   
Made in de
Battlefield Tourist






Nuremberg



This is the player map of Barrowmaze I was talking about. Scale is 1 box = 10ft. The players have at least briefly visited most of the areas, but the overall map is absolutely huge and sprawling, it's a 1 level dungeon with 8 separate areas getting generally harder as you head west-to-east. You can access the dungeon from multiple barrow mounds on the surface. I've been running it for newbies to the game for a few years now, and I've always found it a great location for some old fashioned tomb robbery.

(If you zoom in on the map you can read my players notes and little illustrations!)

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2018/04/28 16:37:58


   
Made in us
Boom! Leman Russ Commander





Alpharius wrote:"Random encounters" are quite important - and quite often aren't all that "Random" either!


I don't like random encounter tables. They are a waste of my time, and my players time, because they contribute next to nothing.

However, tailored random encounter tables are generally fine to aide unimaginative GM's, if tailored well, to truly flesh out an environment and present a sense of it's relative danger. However, I prefer to improvise and decide what happens as it's appropriate to do so.

Red Harvest wrote:No. Ever since the crap the Hickman's churned out, there is too much story-based adventuring -- read 'railroading'-- where characters are just roles in someone else's story. DMs are expected to poke and prod the players along towards the denouement. See every Pathfinder adventure path, ever. IIRC, The old Dungeon Magazine used to include those terrible things.

Wandering Monsters are always a must have. And so what if they are not "level appropriate" challenges. Players ought to know when to run away...
...which is most of the time in a game about resource management.


I highly disagree. Resource Management is not what Dungeons and Dragons, or most roleplay games, is about. Roleplaying games are about playing the part of another person in another world, exploring who they are and how they overcome the challenges they face in their lives.

Resource management may be an applicable component, if, for example, the party are explorers hacking through unexplored rainforest in search of ancient ruins or revolutionaries plotting the overthrow of a government, but it's equally likely to be entirely non-applicable, for example, a game about courtly intrigue.

Roleplaying Games are generally what's referred to as "collaborative storytelling". The GM creates a world and gives life to it, and the players [players' characters] live within it. There is always a story in a RPG, but it's about the players' characters and driven by the players.

If the game ceases to be about who the characters are [their personalities as defined by the players], and instead becomes about what the characters are [the mechanical numbers on paper], it's ceased to be a roleplaying game and started becoming a wargame. A video game can capture the dungeoncrawl experience just as well as a real GM, but what they can't do is imbue into the world a sense of life and true verisimilitude, and offer the requisite freedom for the players to explore their characters.

If the game ceases to be about the players chose for their characters to act, you have a railroad.


Generally, as a GM, I consider my role to create and populate a world, and decide how it reacts to the players's character actions with a degree of verisimilitude.

I also don't like "dungeon crawls", in the classic sense, where the party goes into an old crypt/dragon lair/abandoned city and fights the monster there to get treasure for no reason other than to get GP and XP. I prefer the party to interact with people, do things for people, and primarily strive against people. Of course, the party may decide to enter such environments and conduct combat against the inhabitant's thereof and strip them of their valuables, but it had better be for reasons better than and exercise in die rolling. Perhaps the party is broke and turns to tomb robbing to make ends meet, or perhaps the party has been contracted by archaeologists to make overrun ruins safe for study, or perhaps they want to flush out a dragon that's terrorizing the countryside, but the players' characters should always have reasons for doing so.

Guardsmen, hear me! Cadia may lie in ruin, but her proud people do not! For each brother and sister who gave their lives to Him as martyrs, we will reap a vengeance fiftyfold! Cadia may be no more, but will never be forgotten; our foes shall tremble in fear at the name, for their doom shall come from the barrels of Cadian guns, fired by Cadian hands! Forward, for vengeance and retribution, in His name and the names of our fallen comrades! 
   
Made in de
Battlefield Tourist






Nuremberg

I disagree with your statement about random encounter tables. I particularly think your judgemental attitude towards them is inappropriate.

I use random encounter tables like improv seeds. I could just come up with stuff off the top of my head in those situations, or I could plan it out, but I like rolling on the table and being forced to be creative with what comes up. I enjoy "not knowing" and discovering a bit of the world along with my players. In a way, it allows me to "play" my dungeon according to the hand I've been dealt. Though, I think Dungeons and Dragons should include dungeons most of the time, so perhaps there we differ. That's alright - sub in "wilderness" or "city" for dungeon and you've got the same idea.

If the random encounter is fun, then it's not a waste of anyone's time. Some of my players just like to bust heads, and a random encounter gives them a chance to do that.

Last session I rolled 2 random encounters as my players were backtracking through the megadungeon. This plays two purposes - it makes the complex feel "alive" and it also discourages the players from endlessly backtracking and makes them have to push on and experience new things.

The first encounter I rolled said "gargoyles" and I rolled a d6 to see how many - 1 gargoyle. I decided that it was a lone scout from the main colony of gargoyles in the Forgotten Crypts area. It was looking for easy prey, and would not attack the group until they were nearly all past, when it came alive and grabbed the halfling at the back of the group and tried to carry her away. This created an interesting tactical problem, as the groups fighters were at the front and they had to try and stop the gargoyle before it could disappear into the darkness with their friend.

The second encounter I rolled was a Shamblng Mound. I thought this would not make sense inside the dungeon so I put it at the entrance, roaming around, having just been brought to life by the chaotic magic leaking out of the barrow mounds. The druid saw this shambling plant and immediately kicked in "speak with plants" and began to talk to the (admittedly very stupid) creature. She eventually convinced it to follow her, feeding it rations and various foodstuffs. She's managed to retain it as a sort of unpredictable ally and is going to try and use it to disrupt the Cult of Orcus by luring it into their area and letting it wreak havoc.

I could have come up with my own encounters, but they likely would have been in service to my "plot" - some cultists of Orcus, or some creatures of chaos spawned by the evil magic of the barrows. Instead, I was encouraged to introduce the gargoyle faction that the players have not met yet, and gave the druid player a chance to use her powers in a creative way.
I don't think either result was a waste of time.

Secondarily, I think however you run your game is fine, but if Alpharius likes resource management and considers it part of his game, then it's not "wrong". Lots of people enjoy that stuff. ikewise, some people just like busting heads and exploring, and character motivation is no big deal for them. That's also fine, as long as everyone is having fun at the table.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2018/04/29 09:02:06


   
Made in gb
[DCM]
Legendary Master of the Chapter





UK

@Inquisitor Lord Katherine: It seems we're very much on the same page regarding the role of a DM; I fully believe it is to tell a story with the group and to do more than just roll for monsters in a dungeon crawl.

My campaign very recently hit a perfect example of my aversion to random encounters. We'd finished early, the players wanted to go for a bit longer so I threw together a quick scene in which some Gnolls attacked their camp on the road... Which as a Random Encounter would have been fine, but I ended up leaving a map on one of the bodies that has now kicked off a whole arc as these Gnolls seemed more organised than most (which our Bard has quickly dubbed The Gnollpocalypse). Now, that could've just been a random fight to fill time and get them some EXP, but with the simple addition of that map I have a set a story in motion that's probably going to take the next 4-5 sessions to fully resolve.

There will undoubtedly be a lot of fights along the way, but crucially, none of them will be without purpose.And yes, sometimes that purpose might just be that the party take on some merc work to afford a new magic item, but there's still a story to be told there beyond 'go here, kill stuff, take loot'.

I wonder if this is something that is simply less common in those who have been playing since the early days, since (to my understanding) the earliest versions of the game did largely centre around dungeon crawls (hence the name) over narrative, so I can see how that might have set a certain expectation. I think 5e on the other hand really encourages that narrative element, the rules being loose enough to allow for a lot of interpretation and the character Backgrounds adding a lot for the players who want to use them. I appreciate a heavily story-driven game is not for everyone (I get the feeling that one of my own players would rather talk less, kill more, but that's not the game the rest of us want to play) but it's certainly the way I like to do things, and I think if there's ever a 6th edition it'll lean even more into that. I can see any 6e basically being the 'Critical Role edition', which would be just wonderful.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2018/04/29 09:11:25


   
Made in de
Battlefield Tourist






Nuremberg

Paradigm: I want to be clear that I think your approach is perfectly fine. I've used it myself many times.

However, over the years, my game has evolved to be more of a pure sandbox than a narrative. I now create a world, with antagonists, potential allies, and a lot of interesting locations to explore. The narrative is whatever the players do - I don't plan out any "plot". Little details like your map or note with the Gnolls also arise in my game, but the players can chose to ignore it and do whatever it is they are interested in. Fighting monsters in a dungeon can be their narrative if they want, or (as one of my groups actually did) they can brick up the entrance to the dungeon and put up signs warning people against entering. It's totally up to them.

If players want to talk to NPCs and get involved in the politics of the setting, they can, but likewise, they can ignore it, buy a pirate ship, and become reavers if that's what they want to do.

The thing that keeps it satisfying for me is that there will be consequences for their choices. If they choose not to deal with the evil cult of orcus, eventually an army of undead will over run that town. They can fight the army, or just leave and go elsewhere.

Random tables are very useful to me in this sort of set up as they help me to generate content that is sufficiently different and untethered from my own preferences and biases.it helps to prevent me from becoming formulaic in my approaches.

Just as an example - I find that if I'm creating encounters myself, I'll usually (but not always) make encounters that are "winnable" by the PCs by the guidelines. Sometimes, I might make one that's obviously not winnable, to make a point. But this is less organic and to me less realistic than having a random chance of having a fairly easy encounter or if you're unlucky, a really difficult encounter, and then some that are in the middle where the players are going to have to think carefully about how they interact with it.

Anyway, that's my perspective. I think all approaches can be valid and fun, but that's why I've moved more toward what is sometimes pejoratively referred to as a "crawl" structure for my game. But just because it's a crawl, doesn't mean there's no roleplaying or story.

   
Made in gb
[DCM]
Legendary Master of the Chapter





UK

Yeah, that's fair. The beauty of the game is that both of these types of game can exist within the same framework, and no one can ever do it 'wrong' unless it's spoiling other people's fun.

I think the key is catering to what your players want. My group is on the whole very keen for a story-led game that lets them impact the world in some significant ways; they have freedom to go wherever they like, but once they're there, I'll make sure there is something to engage in, and if they choose to ignore it, there will be consequences.

But all my stories and adventures basically exist to further the character's own stories; most will draw on some detail of their background to make it nice and personal, or put them in a situation where a player faces something that forces them act in character, work with their morality and attitude, essentially to 'test' their character the same way combat 'tests' their stats.

My combat tends to be fairly low-threat, as ultimately I don't want these characters to die, as I want to keep telling their story. I also tend to find protracted fights really dull to actually run. So in general, combat is a comparatively small part of my game, and a 'proper' dungeon crawl pretty much unheard of. The mechanics as a whole are a really secondary feature, which is why I strongly discourage my players from pursuing specific 'builds' or taking things for mechanical rather than narrative reasons. For instance, if someone wants to take a level of Druid on their Rogue for some new features, they better have a damn good reason for it.


But like I say, there's no 'wrong' way to do things so long as everyone is enjoying themselves.

   
Made in de
Battlefield Tourist






Nuremberg

I think that style, where you think about your characters personal stories and try to create a very satisfying narrative arc for the character is something some of my players (2 in particular) really expect and want too. I know they are having fun, but I do actually find myself thinking sometimes "Jeez, when am I going to tie in that Vadania's father is a prominent member of the Winter Court?"
Because in my normal style, that could never come up if they don't go to the part of the world where he is active and happen to bump into him. But I think Vadania's player is very interested in this and she left who her father was ambiguous on purpose. She sees her ancestry as a major part of her character as a young half-elf. So I can totally see the advantage of your approach and will probably end up making some tweaks to my approach to satisfy Vadania's player because like you say, it's about everyone having fun.

Equally, you should give the ole Dungeon Crawl a try some time in the future. You might be surprised at how fun it can be

   
Made in gb
[DCM]
Legendary Master of the Chapter





UK

I think there's a knack to nudging players in a certain direction even in a more sandboxy game; in general, if you can give them a reason to go somewhere they will, even if it's not their original destination. So maybe a traveller on the road shares a story of someone who resembles this character's father, seen in [insert part of world here], or the party (once they reach a certain level of fame and influence) are summoned to a certain place to discuss a discreet offer of employment. You can keep the sandbox feel while still highlighting certain points of interest that you want to expand on, and if you are careful to make sure it's something that should appeal to a certain character, you should be able to prompt them in a certain direction without taking their freedom away. They're still going because they want to, not because you've made them.

My hesitancy to run a proper dungeon crawl (aside from the fact I personally find combat gets boring to run after about 45 minutes or so tops) is that the makeup of my group means in any protracted set of fights, half the party is going to limp through while the other half remains totally unchallenged. Despite all being the same level, 2 of the players are incredibly powerful in combat (level 5s that fight like level 7s) so are hard to actually challenge, while the other 2 are much weaker (though happen to be the best roleplayers in the party) and would tire of a dungeon crawl very quickly as their utility dwindled. And yes, they could play more cautiously and stand at the back, but that's entirely out of character for at least one if not both of them (level 4 Warlocks probably shouldn't charge Mind Flayers, but he did and it was awesome).

I have a fairly combat-heavy arc coming up, but it still won't be a classic dungeon crawl, as there's not going to be a linear progression from one room/fight to the next, just a lot of fights in fairly close proximity but with a heavy investigative and politically dramatic element in between.

   
Made in us
Mekboy Hammerin' Somethin'





USA

Out of curiosity what kind of random encounter tables are all of you using, and where do they come from? I'm a first time DM and just started running "Lost Mine of Phandelver". So are we talking random encounter tables from pre-made campaigns, or are they pre-made tables applied from somewhere else, or did you create the tables yourselves?

I like to play with miniatures, so I wrote down the max number of every monster that can appear in this campaign. Often the random encounter table has a chance of twice as many monsters of one type appearing than they would anywhere else in the game, and many won't show up for several chapters after they could show up as a random encounter, or only appear in a side quest that might get skipped. So that part of the random encounter table bothers me a bit, being that I have to make and prepare a lot more miniatures for that session than I would have to otherwise. At the same time, and as mentioned above, I like the random encounter's table also, because it does make the world feel like more is happening in it than just the current quest.

@Da Boss: Making a completely sandbox style game must be exhausting and a lot of work on your part, but it sounds like so much fun for your players to have so much freedom. I'm guessing your players have some experience to fully understand everything they can do in your world, a brand new player probably wouldn't realize.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2018/04/29 14:39:04


   
Made in gb
[DCM]
Legendary Master of the Chapter





UK

This is a handy resource for randomising things, anything from tavern names to encounter setups. Even if (like me) you don't like randomly rolling for encounters at the table, it can be handy to use pre-session to save you working out what to include in an encounter. For instance, if you know you want a fight with goblins, keep generating until you get a goblin-based encounter.

https://donjon.bin.sh/5e/random/


Automatically Appended Next Post:
This is another good one, letting you set environment, monster type, difficulty and player level.
http://tools.goblinist.com/5enc

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2018/04/29 14:58:49


   
Made in de
Battlefield Tourist






Nuremberg

 Syro_ wrote:
Out of curiosity what kind of random encounter tables are all of you using, and where do they come from? I'm a first time DM and just started running "Lost Mine of Phandelver". So are we talking random encounter tables from pre-made campaigns, or are they pre-made tables applied from somewhere else, or did you create the tables yourselves?

Most often, I'm running a location that someone else wrote that I've plopped into my game with alterations to make it fit in. So if the location comes with random encounter tables, I'll use that. If I've made my own dungeon, I'll usually make my own table, which is time consuming, but I find it worthwhile. I don't really like generic tables that much, but I would use them in a pinch. I also make encounter tables for the various wilderness regions to give them a bit of character. I might take a pre-made table and just alter it a bit to fit what I need.


@Da Boss: Making a completely sandbox style game must be exhausting and a lot of work on your part, but it sounds like so much fun for your players to have so much freedom. I'm guessing your players have some experience to fully understand everything they can do in your world, a brand new player probably wouldn't realize.


I'm actually running with two groups of total newbies at the moment, and they cope well enough. They don't always fully grasp everything they can do, but when they start to realise they get very excited.
There is a fair bit of front loaded prep, that's true. But I cheat in several ways. I use a campaign setting (The Wilderlands of High Fantasy) that has pretty detailed hex maps, with some suggested adventure hooks in many of the hexes. Then I drop pre-written adventure sites and towns into other hexes, and write my own stuff for others if I don't have a pre-written that fits nicely. So if the players go to a hex, I pull out the relevant stuff for that hex. The hardest part is keeping an overview of what's happening in the different locations - post-game note taking is important for that, otherwise I forget. The other secret to this sort of game is that you only need to prep the starting area in a lot of detail - if the players head off for somewhere else, dangers on the road, random things they find and so on can give you time to prep the next area. The key to doing this well is never let the players see you laying the rails as they go. For my current campaign, this is the world map:
https://goo.gl/images/9bQsm5

But I'm zoomed in in the top right corner on the region of Valon:


And even on that map, I'm mostly in the Downland Plain area, on the left side of the map in the middle, with the Marsh and the River.
So I put the Barrowmaze on the edge of the Marsh, and the town of Helix 1 hex away (each hex is 6 miles). The players started in Helix. The only other stuff I really had to have ready was some stuff for the large forest to the west, where I put a settlement of wood elves, a green dragon and her kobold minions, and an ettercap lair. The cursed, ruined city of Sotur is on the coast, and I've prepped that myself, and the pirate haven Canospaur is north of Sotur on the coastline. Near Helix is the feudal fort of Ironguard Motte. My players have so far (22 sessions) been exploring Barrowmaze, with one excursion to meet the elves in the forest and travel into Faerie. They plan on exploring the ruins of Sotur next, or possibly taking a ship to an island they've heard about with a large town on it.

btw, here is an example of a random encounter table I made for the city of Sotur, which has a gate to the Abyss inside it that spews demons into the area, where they batter themselves into oblivion against the magical shield around the city.
Spoiler:

Sotur (Far from Gate)

1-5 1d4 Bloodletters, 1d4 Goat Daemons
6-10 3d4 Dretches/Manes/Varighoulles
11-15 1d4 Dretches and 1 Goat Daemon
16-20 1d4 Manes and 1 Bloodletter
21-25 1d10 Spawn of Yustus
26-30 1d4 Spawn of Yustus, 1d4+1 Goat Daemons
31-35 1 Ape Demon
36-40 1 Ape Demon, 1d4+1 Dretches
41-45 1 Succubus
46-50 2d4 Goat Daemons
51-55 1 Chasme
56-60 1d3 Ape Daemons
61-65 3d6 Spawn of Yustus
66-70 1 Ape Demon, 1d10 Goat Daemons, 2d8 Manes
71-75 1d3 Bloodletter
76-80 1d3 Bloodletter, 2d6 Dretches
81-85 1 Succubus, 1d3 Bloodletters
86-90 1 Succubus, 2d6 Varighoulles
91-95 1 Vrock
96-100 Roll Again Twice

Sotur (Close to Gate)
1-5 Roll once on the Far From Gate table
6-10 Roll Twice on the Far From Gate table
11-15 Roll three times on the Far From Gate table
16-20 1d4 Ape Demons
21-25 3d6 Spawn of Yustus
26-30 1d4 Ape Daemons or Babau, 2d6 Goat Demons
31-35 1d3 Bloodletters
36-40 1 Vrock
41-45 1D3 Vrocks
46-50 1 Hezrou
51-55 1 Chasme
56-60 1d3 Chasme
61-65 1 Hyena Demon
66-70 1d2 Hezrou
71-75 1 Meladaemon or Hezrou + 1 Roll on the Far From Gate table
76-80 d4+1 Babau or Ape Daemons
81-85 1d4 Hyena Demons
86-90 1 Devourer
91-95 1 Glabrezu
96-100 Roll Again Twice


tl,dr: when sandboxing, cheat like a mofo.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2018/04/29 16:27:07


   
Made in us
Boom! Leman Russ Commander





Da Boss wrote:I think that style, where you think about your characters personal stories and try to create a very satisfying narrative arc for the character is something some of my players (2 in particular) really expect and want too. I know they are having fun, but I do actually find myself thinking sometimes "Jeez, when am I going to tie in that Vadania's father is a prominent member of the Winter Court?"
Because in my normal style, that could never come up if they don't go to the part of the world where he is active and happen to bump into him. But I think Vadania's player is very interested in this and she left who her father was ambiguous on purpose. She sees her ancestry as a major part of her character as a young half-elf. So I can totally see the advantage of your approach and will probably end up making some tweaks to my approach to satisfy Vadania's player because like you say, it's about everyone having fun.

Equally, you should give the ole Dungeon Crawl a try some time in the future. You might be surprised at how fun it can be


So, from my experience, my 3 worst D&D experiences have all been straight-up dungeon crawls, where the party just sort of arrives with an excuse-quest-lead-the-GM-decided-for-us to plow through a maze of traps and monsters. 2 of them were pre-written modules, which also lends to my dislike to using pre-prepared material. I try to avoid running straight up crawls too, and haven't really enjoyed any of the ones I've run.

At some point, most parties will have to pass through a "dungeon", whether it's an abandoned dwarf fortress occupied and fortified by shadar-kai as a forward outpost, a sewage treatment complex in the underhive being used by Chaos Cultists, or a 15000t artillery cruiser that's been capture by space pirates and is extorting local systems. However, there's a difference between that and a dungeoncrawl, at least in my mind.

My other 2c on the matter is that a straight crawl is basically a tactical wargame. If I wanted that, I would just play one of the many I own.

Da Boss wrote:Secondarily, I think however you run your game is fine, but if Alpharius likes resource management and considers it part of his game, then it's not "wrong". Lots of people enjoy that stuff. ikewise, some people just like busting heads and exploring, and character motivation is no big deal for them. That's also fine, as long as everyone is having fun at the table.


It's dependent upon the theme of the game, as I said.

In my Deathwatch game, I require the party to track every bolt shell they bring with them. When my D&D party trekked off into poorly explored high-sierra backcountry, I made them track food down to packages of crackers and strips of dried meat. However, on the flip side, playing as Samurai in Lot5R we almost never bothered with supply on the grounds that our servants dealt with provisioning or our horses were swift enough to ride between our castles where meals would be provided and day-to-day operation managed by stewards.

I was primarily contesting the point that resource management is the focus of, or even a major necessary part, of the game. It's a supporting element that can be used to enhance the experience of the game and contribute to the construction of a coherent atmosphere and theme, but is equally likely to be entirely unnecessary or detracting. D&D is a generic and flexible system to boot, though it's specific balance of mechanics tend to emphasize combat>social>exploration.


Automatically Appended Next Post:
 Syro_ wrote:

@Da Boss: Making a completely sandbox style game must be exhausting and a lot of work on your part, but it sounds like so much fun for your players to have so much freedom. I'm guessing your players have some experience to fully understand everything they can do in your world, a brand new player probably wouldn't realize.


I find it fairly easy to run, that way. As long as I know what major players are up to, and general characteristics about an are, I can fill in the rest of the stuff when the players interact with it and logically extrapolate how characters react to the player's actions. I generally run D&D games with a lot of player latitude, and I think it works out well.

 Da Boss wrote:
I disagree with your statement about random encounter tables. I particularly think your judgemental attitude towards them is inappropriate.


Yeah, I'm a little judgmental. Other people do their own thing, for sure.

This message was edited 6 times. Last update was at 2018/04/29 20:48:51


Guardsmen, hear me! Cadia may lie in ruin, but her proud people do not! For each brother and sister who gave their lives to Him as martyrs, we will reap a vengeance fiftyfold! Cadia may be no more, but will never be forgotten; our foes shall tremble in fear at the name, for their doom shall come from the barrels of Cadian guns, fired by Cadian hands! Forward, for vengeance and retribution, in His name and the names of our fallen comrades! 
   
Made in gb
[DCM]
Legendary Master of the Chapter





UK

To my mind at least, the defining feature of the 'Dungeon Crawl' is that the dungeon itself is the point of it all. The reward is the XP and loot, the challenge is progressing from room to room, and the end goal is to clear the place out and discover all its secrets. (though perhaps this is overly simplistic)

That's how I see the difference between a Dungeon Crawl and just a series of linked fights in an interior location, and why I don't really go in for them; I like to have something more at stake than just a reward, and I like the combat encounters I run to have some kind of dramatic payoff. If my party are fighting through a location, it's usually to reach a specific place/NPC/event at the end, or to get them talking to a character or each other along the way ect. It's all about the use of combat to further drama for us.

Combat for combat's sake isn't really part of the game I run, which I think again comes back to catering to your group. Nothing wrong with a hardcore dungeon crawl if that's what the players want. It's been a part of the game's DNA since the beginning, so it's a great way to run the game, just not for me.

   
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USA

Da Boss, Paradign, and Inquisitor Lord Katherine: Thank you for the responses to my questions, the examples, and the resources.

@Paradign: Thanks for those links, I've bookmarked them both. Where and how I usually play right now, I don't have easy access to a computer, but in the future if that doesn't change I may even pre-generate some of those tables and print them for future use.

@Da Boss: Wow, those maps look like they could keep your groups busy for many years to come! Now am I understanding you right that one of your groups is adventuring in the top right corner of the Valon map and a second group is in the center left of the Valon map? Any chance of them meeting eventually? I may have already mentioned this, but I may have a second smaller group that wants me to DM for them (although it probably won't actually happen). I was thinking once my main group finishes Phandelver and move onto adventures I make myself, I thought it would be cool to have both groups in the same world, far away, but close enough that big events and changes in the world would affect both games. Any thoughts?

   
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I think a shared world is definitely doable (especially if you have a homebrew setting), there's scope for some really cool stuff if one party's actions have a significant impact that changes the world for the other. The only issue comes when it gets in the way of what one group wants to do. You don't want both parties to look at a map, pick the Lost Ruins Of Arr-Karazon and both decide they want to go and loot them! Unless you can bring both groups together and run a single larger game for a session or two, which would in itself be really cool, but would require a lot of legwork to get it set up.

I run an entirely homebrew setting and I've already decided that any other campaigns I end up running will be set in the same world, far away that the various groups don't interfere with each other, but close enough that a lot of my worldbuilding in terms of nations, factions, cultures and the pantheon will be transferable.

I think the key to a homebrew world, especially with a more sandboxy feel (which my game does lean towards, at broader level), is to make it feel alive and have that crucial verisimilitude. So even without running two campaigns, I've made sure to popular many areas with other adventuring parties and heroic (or villainous) characters so the players feel they're not the only ones going out and doing this stuff. Sometimes they'll team up with these NPCs for a session or two, sometimes they'll come into conflict with them, but in either case as the adventuring sort tend towards larger-than-life characters it can be a great way to prompt drama.

I recently used a neutral/evil band of adventurers to hold a mirror up to my PCs, kind of 'if you don't find your greater purpose, this could be you in a year's time, washed-out mercenaries with nothing left to fight for but themselves'. It actually ended up splitting the party permanently as two PCs had a major falling out over this group (prompted by some backstory elements, one of these bad guys was the only other member of their race on of the PCs had encountered, and that overrode any loyalty to the party) and the others took sides around that, but to be honest, I think that's great; there were no hard feelings between the players, just the characters, and it produced some intense high drama which was entirely unexpected but was far more satisfying a conclusion than the one I predicted (which was basically just a big 4v4 showdown between the two parties).

I know some DMs and some groups are totally against player conflict and splitting the party like that, but I'd much rather my players stay in character and come to blows than abandon their morals and principles for the sake of keeping the party together.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2018/04/30 07:37:12


   
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Nuremberg

 Syro_ wrote:

@Da Boss: Wow, those maps look like they could keep your groups busy for many years to come! Now am I understanding you right that one of your groups is adventuring in the top right corner of the Valon map and a second group is in the center left of the Valon map? Any chance of them meeting eventually? I may have already mentioned this, but I may have a second smaller group that wants me to DM for them (although it probably won't actually happen). I was thinking once my main group finishes Phandelver and move onto adventures I make myself, I thought it would be cool to have both groups in the same world, far away, but close enough that big events and changes in the world would affect both games. Any thoughts?


Yeah, I'm expecting to use these maps for a long time!
As you deduced from my blog, I'm a school teacher. So I have 2 groups at the moment - one is teachers who play after school. The other is a group of kids who play in lunch breaks and for a short time after school on fridays. The kids group is very loose, sometimes people show up, other times they don't, there's not much worry about that consistency.
The two groups started in the pub in Helix. They both went and explored the barrow mounds south of town. The teachers interacted with the lore and the factions and found out that the cult of orcus had opened a rift into a plane of madness. The kids looted some tombs and then wanted to buy stuff. So the teachers group has stayed adventuring in the barrows, defending Helix from a horde of ghouls etc etc. Meanwhile the kids group found out there is no "magic item shop" in any of the small villages and towns in the Downland Plain, and went to the pirate cove to find out where they might find some items. They were given a few options and decided to sail to the island of the alchemists in the middle of the sea to get them. They've since been adventuring for various shady alchemists and trying to amass gold and magic items because that is what they seem to want. Sometimes one of the kids DMs, but they feel uncomfortable running games in "my" world, so they often have a portal to another world open for short adventures, often with plots themed around the latest Marvel movie or Dark Souls game.

The kids are VERY keen to meet the teachers group and fight them. I'm probably going to do it at the end of the year in a sort of one off episode like a comic crossover. The two groups don't mix because of the fact that the teachers want a break from kids in their free time, but when both were in the same part of the world they found evidence of each other in the barrows. Like the kids killed an ogre and cut off it's head as a trophy and then next week the teachers had to fight an animated, headless ogre because the kids didn't burn the body.

I've done mixed groups myself before, and in fact run shared worlds with multiple GMs and up to 18 players. It's actually not so difficult but you have to keep a record of game summaries or you'll lose track. This also meant we had mixed levels within the group and all sorts, and it actually worked out fine. I've also played in a game as a player where there was another group of players in the same city, and we teamed up for some big events, or mixed the parties for certain one off adventures.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2018/04/30 08:22:28


   
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The ultimate end point of the shared world sandbox game is a 'West Marches' style game, where 4 or 5 DMs and 20+ players run the same world, the parties often changing and exploring a hex map to fill in the blanks. The idea is that all the groups feed back into one overarching worldbuilding exercise, usually via a forum/subreddit/group chat ect.

Say you have a DM running a level 3 group and one running a level 7 group that have been going for a lot longer. The level 3s find a crypt that, after the first couple of levels, is too heavily guarded for them to make much more progress. But when they're back from the adventure, the Paladin of that group mentions to his level 7 Paladin buddy that there might be some good loot there, or a great evil that needs slaying, so the next session, the level 7 group go and tackle the same dungeon. This time, maybe the first two levels are still cleared from the first group's excursion, but maybe the overlord of the dungeon has doubled the defences further in, expecting a second attempt to break through.

This obviously requires A LOT of coordination (especially between the DMs) but to be honest, it does sound very cool. Matt Colville has a good video on it if you want to learn more.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGAC-gBoX9k&t=1s

   
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That's essentially what we did, but with a gigantic (GIGANTIC) megadungeon instead of wilderness.
It was extremely successful. I strongly recommend Ben Robbin's original blogs about it too - really nice reads.

http://arsludi.lamemage.com/index.php/78/grand-experiments-west-marches/

   
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USA

Thanks guys, I appreciate the info. I had never heard of a "West Marches" style game before. Even though I watch Matt Colville sometimes, I'd never seen that video of his. I'll also check out that blog.

@Da Boss: That's really cool that both groups you're DMing for have to do with your school. I'm a school teacher too, and I'm a part of a few different gaming groups, but the one I'm currently DMing the Starter Set for is a group of my students. I'm hoping to get them into D&D for oen to help one of my students have more friends, but also to encourage their imaginations and get them interested in improving their writing and public speaking skills by teaching them how to DM. My final goal is to then step back and having them continue the group without me as they age.

   
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 Da Boss wrote:


This is the player map of Barrowmaze I was talking about. Scale is 1 box = 10ft. The players have at least briefly visited most of the areas, but the overall map is absolutely huge and sprawling, it's a 1 level dungeon with 8 separate areas getting generally harder as you head west-to-east. You can access the dungeon from multiple barrow mounds on the surface. I've been running it for newbies to the game for a few years now, and I've always found it a great location for some old fashioned tomb robbery.

(If you zoom in on the map you can read my players notes and little illustrations!)


Man that map takes me back! Absolutely love it. Way cool man!

As long as there's, you know, sex and drugs, I can do without the rock and roll. 
   
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 Syro_ wrote:
Thanks guys, I appreciate the info. I had never heard of a "West Marches" style game before. Even though I watch Matt Colville sometimes, I'd never seen that video of his. I'll also check out that blog.

@Da Boss: That's really cool that both groups you're DMing for have to do with your school. I'm a school teacher too, and I'm a part of a few different gaming groups, but the one I'm currently DMing the Starter Set for is a group of my students. I'm hoping to get them into D&D for oen to help one of my students have more friends, but also to encourage their imaginations and get them interested in improving their writing and public speaking skills by teaching them how to DM. My final goal is to then step back and having them continue the group without me as they age.


That's about the coolest thing I've heard in a long time!

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Mekboy Hammerin' Somethin'





USA

Thanks

   
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Virginia

Didn't know there was a DnD thread on here. Excellent!

Greetings, fellow DMs.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2018/05/02 18:09:09


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Hey there krodarklorr

   
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Virginia

 Syro_ wrote:
Hey there krodarklorr


What is up my dudes?

What have you guys been working on in the world of DnD? I, myself, am working on a "critical mode" sandbox campaign that I plan to start later this month after Mordenkainen's ToF comes out.

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@krodarklorr: I'm curious to hear more about your "critical mode" sandbox campaign. I'm just starting out, so I've been building up a miniature collection from Lord of the Rings Heroclix, Magic the Gathering boardgame minis, among others along with trying to make a lot of my own stuff. I'm running the 5E starter set campaign, and have been crafting the whole thing. If you want to check any of it out, it's mostly all I've been posting about on my P&M blog (in my sig).

   
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 Syro_ wrote:
@krodarklorr: I'm curious to hear more about your "critical mode" sandbox campaign. I'm just starting out, so I've been building up a miniature collection from Lord of the Rings Heroclix, Magic the Gathering boardgame minis, among others along with trying to make a lot of my own stuff. I'm running the 5E starter set campaign, and have been crafting the whole thing. If you want to check any of it out, it's mostly all I've been posting about on my P&M blog (in my sig).


Wow. Yeah, I've got like, 4 minis, haha. I usually use colored tokens and small, numbered D6s to represent enemies. Poker chips for larger ones.

I named it "Critical Mode" after the Kingdom Hearts difficulty setting (been playing through all of them again in preparation for the third one). The idea is that I want a game where it's the hardest 5e has to offer. Strictly enforcing carrying capacity, vision and lighting, food and water, lifestyle expenses and downtime activities, spell components, navigation and foraging, etc. In addition, I'd be using most of the variant rules to add more complexity to the game, such as combat facing coupled with Flanking and Speed Factor initiative, Spell Points, Proficiency Dice, and Gritty Realism Resting and all of the Healing and injury variants. Then toss in the smaller variant rules of Equipment resizing, variant combat actions, cleaving through creatures, etc. And lastly, magic items will be as rare as they are intended to be. If you find an item, it has a huge chance of just being the schematic to make the item, so you'll have to embark on a quest and spend precious resources to invest into making that item.

The sandbox part just fits with the game, I think. It's up the players to drive the story with their backgrounds and their ambitions. All dungeons and quest seeds are randomly generated with the DM charts, and they have to carefully plan adventures and make sure they're prepared. Then of course I'll be utilizing random encounters during adventuring days, since navigation will be strictly enforced.

Basically, the players have to be extremely careful and know how to play the game.

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That's an interesting choice. I think the book keeping would probably wear on me unless I developed some smooth way to do it or had players who were into it. I'd probably abstract all that sort of stuff to something easy to track.

I think when you make changes to these sorts of things though you often see interesting aspects of play emerging. We always had a house rule in 3.X that you had a "round's grace" to save someone who died.So if someone drops below -9, then you get a round to get to them and heal them before they are officially dead. When I eventually removed that rule, it really changed combat - players became a lot less complacent about dying characters, and the death rate went up, which changed how the game felt significantly.

For the same reason in 5e I make my players roll their death saves in secret and keep the results to themselves. That way, people don't artificially "know" that they have another round before they need to stabilize someone, making things more tense.

As for me, I'm working on making a special dungeon tile for the upcoming boss fight in my barrowmaze campaign. Pretty excited about it! I was inspired by seeing Syro's blog.

   
 
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