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Postby Bag of Ass » Mon Nov 23, 2009 6:20 pm

Last night I ran a session of D&D for some guys who had never played before. I also had never played before, let alone DMed. It went all right but a little slower than I would've liked. It was particularly challenging for the guy playing the halfling rogue, especially since I don't really know how stealth works during combat, and he kept asking why/how/what everything and challenging things I'd say. Here is how things went. I had some premade character sheets that they could pick from and here is what the party ended up being.
  • Estey Light - half-elf cleric
  • Whauqina Djibouti (pronounced Fakina) - human wizard
  • Piggy - dragonborn paladin
  • Pimp - halfling rogue
I really wish the rogue had picked the fighter...I think next time I will recommend he switch, because the mechanics of a fighter are much more straightforward.

Estey and Piggy decided they knew each other as teens, and Whauqina lived near Estey's farm. Pimp decided he did was not with the party but instead was hiding in the trees observing them on the King's Road. They were on their way to a town called Winterhaven to investigate the disappearance of a guy named Douven Staul, a friend of theirs that went in search of a dragon's treasure. Additionally, Estey had heard from some of his cleric contacts some rumors of a death cult in the Winterhaven area, so the party might investigate that as well. It was several days journey to Winterhaven, and one day Piggy stumbles on a rock and falls to the ground. While down there he notices some clawed tracks which was peculiar because it had recently rained, so the tracks must be pretty fresh. They start looking around and spotted some kobolds in the bushes and behind rocks, foiling their attempt at an ambush.

The kobolds attack the party, and Whauqina opens up with a scorching burst that destroys three of them. The other two kobold minions attack, and at this point a few other, tougher looking kobolds reveal themselves as well. The wizard is too far out front and takes a shot from a sling and has two soldier-type kobolds attack, so she's looking pretty bad. The paladin stepped in to take some of the heat, while the cleric healed. Meanwhile the rogue remained in the shadows for a bit longer, waiting for a time to strike. He darted out and started stabbing the kobold dragonshields, befriending the rest of the party. The kobold slinger launched a fire pot at the wizard setting her on fire, and later a gluepot at the cleric which immobilized him. Eventually the party was victorious and continued on to Winterhaven.

The party approached the walled village of Winterhaven from the east and stopped at the guard post. The guards pointed them toward the inn, and the dragonborn asked where he could get a manicure and also flirted with the guard. They got to the inn and started asking around about their friend Douven Staul, and found someone who had talked to him a few weeks back and drawn up a map for him to the dragon burial site. Additionally they talked to Lord Padraig, the town's leader, and agreed to help with the ongoing kobold menace. They also asked about the death cult and didn't find out anything concrete, until they talked to a mysterious elf who claimed to have seen cult activity in the vicinity of the kobold camp...the very same camp that Padraig had pointed them to.

At this point it was time for an extended rest, both for the party and for the players, so they got rooms at the inn and we called it a night.

Addendum: just realized that the wizard's name is supposed to be "fucking your booty." Clever girl.

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Postby nobody_important » Mon Nov 23, 2009 11:18 pm

Like actual sneaking around in combat? You can do that? Or was he arguing about flanking/tumbling/sneak dice? I haven't played much 4th Edition, but in 3.5 the rogue was usually a bouncier version of the fighter that also caused more tavern brawls.

Bag of Ass wrote:Whauqina Djibouti (pronounced Fakina) - human wizard


There's one in every group... (and it's usually ME.)
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Postby OMGBEES » Tue Nov 24, 2009 12:19 am

nobody_important wrote:There's one in every group...


People named after small, obscure African countries?
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Postby Bag of Ass » Tue Nov 24, 2009 1:10 am

nobody_important wrote:Like actual sneaking around in combat? You can do that? Or was he arguing about flanking/tumbling/sneak dice? I haven't played much 4th Edition, but in 3.5 the rogue was usually a bouncier version of the fighter that also caused more tavern brawls.

Yeah, like I guess he wanted his first hit to be from stealth. I don't know much about how rogues are supposed to play, so I didn't know how to advise him.

He's supposed to be able to do sneak attacks from flanking, since that's just one form of combat advantage, right?

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Postby OMGBEES » Tue Nov 24, 2009 1:26 am

You should ask Kauser, I get the feeling he knows 4e pretty well.

Does it have an SRD?
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Postby . » Tue Nov 24, 2009 1:28 am

Pardon my ignorance, but do you make up the scenarios yourself or is it from a book? A little a both? How do you keep score?
I have yet to figure out how this equals a fun evening. Obviously people do have fun, I just don't get it.

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Postby Bag of Ass » Tue Nov 24, 2009 1:52 am

You can make up your own scenarios, but as this is my first time playing, I am following an official published adventure. They encourage creativity, so you don't have to follow it 100%. I'm following it about 90%, adding in my own things here and there. For example, one of the story hooks I'm using is investigating the presence of a death cult. The official way is that some named NPC gives you that quest, but I changed it to be that my friend who picked the cleric had heard rumors of the cult from some of his cleric contacts. I'm hoping that things like that draw players in more by involving them in the story.

There's not really a "score." The players are in the same party, and they share experience points equally. Loot can be earned and distributed as the players see fit. They write this stuff down on their character sheets, and if they get new equipment, they modify the numbers on their sheet accordingly.

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Postby OMGBEES » Tue Nov 24, 2009 2:00 am

The draw is different for different people. Some people like the mechanics and the combat; some people (I find most people who specifically prefer D&D) like gaming the system and coming up with the most broken characters they can. Personally, I like telling a big story with other people.
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Postby Kauser » Tue Nov 24, 2009 3:47 am

Bag of Ass wrote:
nobody_important wrote:Like actual sneaking around in combat? You can do that? Or was he arguing about flanking/tumbling/sneak dice? I haven't played much 4th Edition, but in 3.5 the rogue was usually a bouncier version of the fighter that also caused more tavern brawls.

Yeah, like I guess he wanted his first hit to be from stealth. I don't know much about how rogues are supposed to play, so I didn't know how to advise him.

He's supposed to be able to do sneak attacks from flanking, since that's just one form of combat advantage, right?


Combat advantage is a binary state, bonuses never stack.

Generally a low level a rogue can sneak attack with one attack once per round while they are flanking, or cannot be seen through cover or concealment.

Any creature or player that has initiative before another character/creature, in the first round only, has combat advantage against any creature/player that has not gone before that creature/player. Basically, if a rogue goes first, he has combat advantage on anyone that hasn't acted on their initiative for the first round.

There are also abilities, usually leaders and defenders, that can cause a creature to grant combat advantage.

Also if a character, or creature uses a run action, they grant combat advantage until the end of their next turn. (they have to live with it for the full round).

OMGBEES wrote:The draw is different for different people. Some people like the mechanics and the combat; some people (I find most people who specifically prefer D&D) like gaming the system and coming up with the most broken characters they can. Personally, I like telling a big story with other people.


That was 3.x in a nutshell. The system was so free form, and lacked so many restrictions, or had so many ways to circumvent them you literally had to OWN EVERY BOOK in order to make a competent character. Typically you wound up having this eclectic group of flipper babies that were level 10 with no higher than 3 levels of any single class. There was one campaign setting that did notably quell a lot of the abuses, which also happened to be my favorite setting: Ravenloft.


Generally, I am the guy that runs the Ravenloft, or Call of Cthulhu games in my groups.


It's good to hear things are running well. If the rogue player has a lot of questions, that's not too big of a deal, their biggest thing is combat advantage, when they have it, and how to get/keep it. If players get too argumentative with the rules, there is always Rule 0. What the GM states, even if it contradicts what is written, is correct. Good luck, hope you are all having fun.
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Postby OMGBEES » Tue Nov 24, 2009 4:54 am

All of my D&D friends are still making munchkins out of 4e characters. It's just what they do. This is why they compete in the D&D opens, and why they were selected to beta test 4e.
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Postby nobody_important » Tue Nov 24, 2009 8:41 am

OMGBEES wrote:
nobody_important wrote:There's one in every group...


People named after small, obscure African countries?


Exactly!

And Ravenloft is fantastic. It's the only setting I've ever played where we've party-wiped on the first encounter of the campaign (clerics are not optional in Ravenloft, as it turned out.) It also (indirectly) led to a running in-joke with our group. How many warmages does it take to change a lightbulb? Trick question! "Change Lightbulb" is a utility spell and does no damage.
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Postby Kauser » Tue Nov 24, 2009 10:20 am

OMGBEES wrote:All of my D&D friends are still making munchkins out of 4e characters. It's just what they do. This is why they compete in the D&D opens, and why they were selected to beta test 4e.


Since we're vicariously whipping them out. A buddy of mine took Gencon Indy with a PUG this past year (and has the ipod to show for it). Trust me, its more tactics than anything else. Everything I've seen so far, including the Rod of Corruption / Rod of Reaving which flat out kills every minion in an area so long as no two are more than 5 squares apart is RAI (Rules as Intended). Basically, when someone asked WotC if X works with Y and Produces Z effects, WotC says Yes. Three times in memory have they actually said no and issued an errata. "Munchkins" in 4e just don't waste actions. Every single Standard, Move, and Minor, they spend on something. Everything is so kitted, and synergized around keywords now I refuse to call anyone that is minimally observant a munchkin.
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Postby Bag of Ass » Tue Nov 24, 2009 3:56 pm

That kind of power gaming isn't really that appealing to me, but then again I've never really played. As a character, I mean. Personally I think it makes more sense to do that in a videogame than a social tabletop rpg.

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Postby hobokenbob » Tue Nov 24, 2009 4:36 pm

Even when Kauser plays doctor, he plays to win.
In fairness, we've been building 'ground zeros' near Iraqi mosques since March 2003.

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Postby Bag of Ass » Wed Nov 25, 2009 4:09 am

Tomorrow there is an opportunity for another session. However, not all the people from the first one will be there, so I decided to run a different adventure, Khyber's Harvest. It is available for free here. I couldn't find printable maps online for it, so I had to draw them which wasn't too bad actually. Will post the recap later.

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Postby OMGBEES » Wed Nov 25, 2009 4:50 am

Kauser wrote:Since we're vicariously whipping them out. A buddy of mine took Gencon Indy with a PUG this past year (and has the ipod to show for it). Trust me, its more tactics than anything else. Everything I've seen so far, including the Rod of Corruption / Rod of Reaving which flat out kills every minion in an area so long as no two are more than 5 squares apart is RAI (Rules as Intended). Basically, when someone asked WotC if X works with Y and Produces Z effects, WotC says Yes. Three times in memory have they actually said no and issued an errata. "Munchkins" in 4e just don't waste actions. Every single Standard, Move, and Minor, they spend on something. Everything is so kitted, and synergized around keywords now I refuse to call anyone that is minimally observant a munchkin.

I heard about the Gencon Indy thing, that sounded like assinine bullshit. I'm not sure what the fuck they thought they were doing there.

I can't speak to how one munchkins in 4e; power gaming has been fucking obnoxious to me, whatever the system. However, I don't buy that 4e just works. Maybe Wizards is being more permissive of people gaming the system, but no one ever creates a rules system with NO unintended consequences. That shit just doesn't happen.
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Postby . » Wed Nov 25, 2009 4:54 am

So, if you use a printed scenario, you need to use a map specific to that scenario? Or is this more of the elaborating on a scenario thing?
I love drawing maps.

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Postby nobody_important » Wed Nov 25, 2009 5:24 am

. wrote:So, if you use a printed scenario, you need to use a map specific to that scenario? Or is this more of the elaborating on a scenario thing?
I love drawing maps.


Pretty much anything is permissible, as long as it's on a grid system. Our group had a big dry-erase mat with pre-printed squares, and our GM would draw the map out on the mat as the dungeon progressed. Other people just describe the combats as they progress; some use modular tiles or project full-color things onto their gaming tables. Some adventures even come with pre-made laminated stuff. Gabe uses some unholy resin cast system that must cost a fortune.


Most tabletop games leave a lot in the hands of the group. It's kind of neat.
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Postby OMGBEES » Wed Nov 25, 2009 5:30 am

We also use a dry-erase map and whatever is lying around for figs.
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Postby Bag of Ass » Wed Nov 25, 2009 5:50 am

I'm using pre-packaged adventures, which come with poster maps when you buy them. However, I'm trying to get away with spending as little as possible, so I am using adventures that are available for free online. For the Shadowfell adventure (the one in the original post) I was able to find printable battle maps, so I plotted those at work which probably cost the company a fortune and I get nervous that someone will catch me. However for the one I'm doing tomorrow, Khyber's Harvest, I couldn't find the maps so instead I printed out blank sheets of 8.5 x 17 with 1-inch gridlines, then drew the maps by hand using the adventure as a guide. I even added color to a few of them.

I print out the .pdf that describes the scenarios and encounters, and I review it and make notes. Things like which minis I plan to use for each monster, and which monsters to drop/add if I have fewer/more than five PCs that day so that the encounter is still balanced for difficulty and XP. I also make notes for places I wish to stray from the adventure or add custom things it doesn't have.

Any tips on how to improve/quicken this preparation process would be greatly appreciated. I just want to be able to make things run smoothly when I am actually DMing. However it's taking a long time to prep, and with so much research/prep and reading of rulebooks in such a short amount of time, I'm kind of getting burned out of D&D. haha...

Addendum: where can I get a dry-erase mat with pre-printed 1-inch gridlines? Addendum2: nevermind, here are some.
Last edited by Bag of Ass on Tue Dec 01, 2009 6:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.


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