The Forge Forums

General Forge Forums => Actual Play => Topic started by: Kevin Vito on January 11, 2008, 09:56:10 PM



Title: Hi! New here. Heres the last D&D game I played.
Post by: Kevin Vito on January 11, 2008, 09:56:10 PM
Now, I can't remember my stats exactly, but I was a rogue/bard named Neviik. I recall getting into a lot of arguments with my DM (Richard) over my character's backstory.
Rich: "OK, your guy was raised on the streets. He's a rough, practical, no-frills kind of guy who lives a spartan lifestyle stealing from the rich..."
me: "If he lives a spartan lifestyle why would he want to steal from people? My guy steals because he likes money. He takes from the rich so he can pay for his extravagant lifestyle. Also, he should beat up a cleric at some point and steal his vestments so he can steal money from the collection plate."
So my DM caved on that point, but he decided that my character has some kind of vendetta against the rich people who killed his family. I went with it.
Other characters:
My buddy Eric played a fire Gensai with amnesia and a bunch of tattoos all over his buddy. Later, Eric would complain that most of the numbers on the stat sheets were completely useless as the only things we were being told to roll for were Dexterity and Charisma (both of which he had low scores in.)
The other guy, Nathan I think, played an Elven ranger with a wolf. He didn't really do much.
Nicky played a vampire girl. During the first session of the campaign she spent most of the time at the town brothel where she bought an elven sex slave. She didn't show up for the second session.
This other blonde girl played a psionic spy, but she never used her powers. She too spent the whole first session at the brothel paying to have sex with elven girls. She also didn't show up for the second session.
Finally, Richard's girlfriend, Megan, was some kind of half-demon cleric descended from royalty. She handled all the rules because she owned the books and Richard actually didn't have any prior experience as a DM. She was using the 2.0 book though (I never played 2.0 before), which was a problem since I helped everybody create their characters (I have a program on my computer for that) and everyone using 3.5 character sheets (3.5 is the only D&D I know). She had us rolling DEX and CHA for everything.

Well, the first night we played took place in a city. The girls spent the whole time at the brothel not really doing anything. Eric attempted to rob an old man for some reason but rolled a critical fail and ended up getting beaten up himself.
I think Nathan made some attempt to talk to people in the town about his backstory or something (whatever it was).
I robbed people (a lot) and ended up with:
Four white horses and a royal carriage
Two masterwork Rapiers
An enchanted longsword which I loaned to Eric.
A mint's worth of gold and silver.
Some nice new clothes...
and some candy.
I wasn't even minmaxing, I swear. I didn't even roll that well.

Anyway, we all ended up getting around to some kind of adventuring office where we were sent to escort a caravan through the desert.

Next session:
OK, so two of our people didn't show up, and we were in the desert.
I hate deserts. Nothing but sand everywhere. It's boring! I prefer my nature to be green, leafy, and climbable.
That whole session went on forever. None of the NPC's had anything really interesting to say. Rich tried to shake things up with some kind of glimmering light in the distance that no one was really interested in, then he threw some kind of pointing ragman in there that didn't really make any sense and was ripped of from a Magic: the Gathering book. So, he threw a bunch of gnolls at us. That battle took freaking forever.
Anyway, we haven't had another D&D night since. I'm trying to get my friends back into it (this time I DM! My brother and his friends seemed to have fun when I had two teams of players racing through a dungeon crawl). My friends just want to play World of Warcraft though... Is there anything I can do?


Title: Re: Hi! New here. Heres the last D&D game I played.
Post by: David B. Goode on January 12, 2008, 03:02:45 PM
Hey Chrono,

Yeah, its tough when its been a while and the groups not feeling it. I had that happen with a group - lots of personal drama involved with players, too. Not cool.

You've got at least two options:

1. Get the group motivated. It sounds like you've got the drive to DM. That's good. One issue covered.

Were the people in your group friends? Do you guys usually hang-out? Or were you just a group that met for gaming?

If you really want that particular group, try to interest them one at a time. Hook them with something in the game you know they'll like. Sounds like elven brothels are popular with at least two players.

Also make sure you've got a clear handle on the rules before the game starts. Most of the current D&D rules can be found on-line. You want the first game you play together to be fun. No pressure.

2. Find a new group. Check the bulletin board at your local library or hop on-line and google gaming groups in your hometown. Or try to rope different friends into the game.

My favorite gaming groups have always been my friends. And I've seen friendships start in gaming groups.

I hope this was helpful. Your gaming story reminds me of some I've played through.


Title: Re: Hi! New here. Heres the last D&D game I played.
Post by: Kevin Vito on January 12, 2008, 03:21:16 PM
Most of these people are friends, there were only a couple I didn't really know very well.
I like to think I have a fairly good grasp of the rules. When I DM I'm usually pretty good about making people do strength checks or saving rolls at the appropriate times. I have a couple of programs on my computer to help me create characters and maps and links to a few good sites I've found.
I would like to play with my friends, but there are a few things I'd like to do differently:
1) Use boards and miniatures. I think this will appeal a lot to Eric and make it easier for me to keep track of where everyone is standing.
2) Ask everybody what their goals are as players and what they want their character's goals to be instead of telling people what their character's goals are.
3) Find some way to incorporate more sex into the game because everybody's mind was on that during the first session. I think Nathan may have simply been distracted because the blonde girl was drawing boobs on his character sheet. Theres this one game I'm designing that I haven't discussed on these boards yet that incorporates sex magick. I might try to work that into the game as an extra school of magic.
4) Try to encourage more creativity in combat. One thing I liked when playing with my brother was when I threw a bunch of skeletons at him and told him that only blunt weapons would be effective. My brother's response: "Can't I just whack the skeletons with the non-pointed end of the spear?" I ended up improvising blunt damage tables for all weapons and gave one kid a "Deathblow" feat which would allow him to use his sword as a blunt weapon by holding it by the blade and beating people with the pommel.
5) Make sure that players know that the rulebook is only a guide and that they have options available to them that aren't available in computer games like WoW.


Title: Re: Hi! New here. Heres the last D&D game I played.
Post by: David B. Goode on January 12, 2008, 06:34:02 PM
1) Yeah, I've been using minis for a while, and they really do help keep tabs of things in combat. Plus, I have a player who's mini-crazed,so it keeps him interested. They can distract, though.

2) Yeah, players only have control over their character. DMs have the whole rest of the universe. I used to have a DM who would just run your character for you. That wasn't cool.

3) Sex, huh. I'll leave that one to you and the tastes of your group, man.

4) Yeah, creative fights are the only ones people remember. Fights in cool places like watermills and factories and clock towers can be fun. Another trick I like to use is a Mexican stand-off. Have the PCs get into a tangle with some goblins and suddenly a purple worm bursts from the ground, eating both sides.

5) Yeah, that's what table-top games are all about. My brother-in-law is a photographer. He's challenged himself to take a picture of a new theme each day. He asked me for a theme and I gave him "freedom". He took a picture of a 20-sided dice on top of a stack of game books.


Title: Re: Hi! New here. Heres the last D&D game I played.
Post by: Caldis on January 12, 2008, 06:39:12 PM
If you dont mind me asking Chrono what is the age range of this group of players?  

Related to your #2 suggestion, did you sense that these players were interested in the activity of role playing or were they just hanging out?  The two girls who didnt show up for the second session in particular, were they really there for the game or for some guy they thought was cute?

Do you think you can get the whole group to give it another shot or ar you looking at a more limited group of players?


Title: Re: Hi! New here. Heres the last D&D game I played.
Post by: Kevin Vito on January 12, 2008, 06:54:47 PM
The youngest player was 18, the oldest player was 25.
If I do another game, I will definately have Richard, Megan, and Eric as they were the ones who seemed most into it and I talk to them often. I'd prefer to have one more player though. If Nathan and those other two girls want to play they can, but they did seem like they were just hanging out.


Title: Re: Hi! New here. Heres the last D&D game I played.
Post by: Callan S. on January 12, 2008, 06:56:23 PM
Hi,

You don't seem to have much respect for them liking world of warcraft? Basically your D&D campaign and WoW are equal - they are two options your friends can choose from. But you say they 'just' want to play wow. Even if they choose to play your game, this isn't going to go well because if they choose to use rules in it you don't approve of, then you'll be just as dismissive of their choice. It's the same way Richard didn't care much for what you would decide about your PC's backstory. Basically if you satisfy your urge to pull them away from their choice (WoW), that urge will come up in play and you'll want to pull them away from their choices in play as well. Roleplay is like a fine meal compared to the junk food that is WoW, but their both food. If you can't respect the food your friends decide to eat, even if they come to a resteraunt with you, you'll end up ordering for them. If you get my analogy.

With the girls - dude, if some guy came to the game, but then pulled a gun and demanded your wallets, would you go 'Ah, perhaps we should have more cops and robbers in the next game'? The girls were there to pick up guys, or be admired for their 'bad girl' pseudo lesbian antics. That was it, dude! They wont care a jot about sex magic.


Title: Re: Hi! New here. Heres the last D&D game I played.
Post by: Kevin Vito on January 12, 2008, 07:07:37 PM
You bring up some good points, Callan.
In my defense though, these friends do keep pressuring me to play WoW even when I explain to them that I can't afford it. You are right about respecting their choices I guess, it's just that when we played D&D and MtG and things like that at least we were hanging out. Whenever I go to Richard's apartment he's too busy playing WoW to talk to me; he just zones out.
Maybe I should just go with option 2 up there and find some new people to play D&D with.


Title: Re: Hi! New here. Heres the last D&D game I played.
Post by: David B. Goode on January 12, 2008, 11:13:43 PM
Table-top RPGs off soooo much more than WOW or any MMORPG. But then, WOW can offer more than table-tops in areas of imagery, speed of combat, and the stuff computers do better than us.

Remember the things table-top games can offer that MMORPGs can't. Unique stories, extensive role-playing,and freedom of choice. These might be good areas to focus on in getting players interested, and then within the game as well.


Title: Re: Hi! New here. Heres the last D&D game I played.
Post by: Callan S. on January 12, 2008, 11:15:28 PM
Hi Chrono,

Do you do any other activities with Richard? Even just sitting around watching DVD's and chatting a bit?


Title: Re: Hi! New here. Heres the last D&D game I played.
Post by: Kevin Vito on January 13, 2008, 11:19:31 AM
Hi Chrono,

Do you do any other activities with Richard? Even just sitting around watching DVD's and chatting a bit?

We used to play Magic: the Gathering, but now we only really chat on facebook. Whenever I come to his house he's always playing Warcraft.


Title: Re: Hi! New here. Heres the last D&D game I played.
Post by: Callan S. on January 13, 2008, 04:02:33 PM
This is getting a bit into general advice, so a moderator might swoop upon us soon, as this is a forum where we work on designs and only chat while we work. But even if you were to make up a wicked fun game and he played it, would he have decided to spend time with you, or would he just be doing fun stuff and whether your there or not isn't a main concern? I know when I started roleplayed, there was a great sense of connectivity and group excitement I hadn't experienced before and as part of design I wanted to capture that when I GM'ed. But even though you feel connected, it's still not the same as the person putting aside what they'd normally do, like wow, and decide to spend some time with you doing something fun (ie the idea is to do something fun with you, not just do something fun for the sake of doing something fun).

But I have to say, roleplay can be a pretty consistantly shit experience - have you tried asking him over to watch a movie, or have drinks at a bar, or something that's a tried and true enjoyable experience? Rather than the rather hit and miss affair that is traditional roleplay?

And to bring this onto design again: Once you stop thinking of how to draw him back, what comes to mind then in terms of design? Never mind the pressures of the real world - free of all that, what designs start coming to mind? Broad question I know, just humour me :)


Title: Re: Hi! New here. Heres the last D&D game I played.
Post by: Kevin Vito on January 13, 2008, 05:08:31 PM
Well, one thing he really seems to like is a detailed setting with a lot of different things thrown in there. One problem he seems to have had in the past when DM'ing was that he would come up with all these places and never get to show them off because it would take forever for people to get from point A to point B.
Second, he likes simplicity in game mechanics. When I told him how attacking worked in 3.5, as opposed to how Megan was having everybody was doing it, his response was "Oh! Like in MageKnight." One of the other games he used to enjoy was MageKnight. I've never played before personally (though I have some figures), but it sounds fun from what he's described. Apparently he and his friends used to do little MageKnight dungeon crawls. I think using miniatures would definately get him and my other friends more excited about playing.
In Magic: the Gathering, I'd say he falls into the 'Spike' category of players. He doesn't really like tribal decks or building decks around a flavor, like I do. He net-decks because he wants to win.
I got him to do the mbti test. He scored INTJ, or, 'The Mastermind'.
Hmmm... maybe role-playing simply isn't for Richard. I think he just wants to fight lots of monsters in exotic locations.


Title: Re: Hi! New here. Heres the last D&D game I played.
Post by: Noclue on January 14, 2008, 02:07:58 AM
My thought after reading your description is that I'd probably put D&D back on the shelf and grab my copy of Agon. Simple combat mechanics, light on the roleplay, heavy on the killing of monsters on exotic locations. Its got competitiveness and cooperation. Lots of strategy. I'd play D&D with the folks that seemed to enjoy that game, your brother and his friends.


Title: Re: Hi! New here. Heres the last D&D game I played.
Post by: Kevin Vito on January 21, 2008, 03:46:48 AM
It seems that Richard wants to play D&D afterall. I was at his house the other day and we started discussing possibly having a game night every week. Huzzah!

OK, so I'm going to do this game from a gamist approach. I'm going to put the dungeons and dragons back into Dungeons and Dragons. I'm thinking of starting with ideas for cool battles and working the plot around to justify them.

Now, I know exactly how I want the game to end. Now, there is this ancient dragon and his cronies who have been trying to summon 'Void' back into the world from his/her/it's planar banishment. Why? I dunno. Maybe this dragon and Void were lovers or something. I'll figure it out later.
Anyway, this dragon you have to fight is really really old and weak from age and years of battle. So, he built a gigantic mechanical dragon mech suit to ride around in. Yes, you fight a dragon that lives inside of a larger dragon. Before that though, you have to fight his five children: a red dragon, a blue dragon, a green dragon, a black dragon, and a white dragon... all five at the same time.
The question is, even with the higher power level of a gestalt game, how do I get the players to the point where they can do this? Would a battle of this scale be possible for three players?

I think I have an idea for how I would like the game to work, but then again I will have to get the player's ideas for back stories. Depending on what they decide I may throw this entire idea out completely. Heres what I would like to do though.

It starts when the princess Ara (or whatever the player decides to name her) is kidnapped by the ancient dragon. Yeah, standard stuff. She's put into the dungeon... pretty cliche so far. Well, it turns out that this dragon was once the second in command to a powerful being known as The Dark Lord. That is, until the dragon betrayed his master and imprisoned him in an urn, sealed so that no man or beast could release him. The Dark Lord has one faithful servant left, a monster named Napolean (or whatever the hell the player decides to name him).
Napolean (place holder name) has been secretly trying for years to release his master. When Ara is brought to the dungeon though, he gets a brilliant idea. He offers to help her escape on the condition that she help him open this urn. Hopefully, the player goes with it or else I'm going to have to figure out a plan B or something. If she does do it though, The Dark Lord is released as a player character! However, he has lost almost all of his power and the three of them have to try and escape.
Anyway, hopefully they get back to Ara's kingdom where they find out that Ara's fiance had set off with three other adventurers to try and rescue her! She missed them half way somewhere. The Dark Lord allies himself with Ara's father (hopefully) to try and defeat the dragon and regain his kingdom.

Thats my idea, but do you think I might be guiding the players too much? It would seem that I would be making the same mistake Richard did by telling me my backstory and not letting me decide. Any ideas?



Title: Re: Hi! New here. Heres the last D&D game I played.
Post by: masqueradeball on January 21, 2008, 12:16:38 PM
5 dragons= CR ??? depending on age... so you need to decide how powerful the dragons are. Epic levels could probably handle this kind of thing. If you want to play that long to get there that is. Of course, you could just start everyone out at level 21 or whatever, but then princesses in castles won't seem like much of a challenge. Maybe you could do it the way Dragon Lance did and have the characters be present at a major battle where there are five dragons and they are major players, or maybe, do a gauntlet where the dragons aren't all at once but rapid succession (which would be only slightly easier, considering that D&D strictly uses daily resources). I know its' not out tell may, and it may be pretty expensive, but fourth edition seems to be promising in that these kinds of large scale encounters will be a lot more feasible...


Title: Re: Hi! New here. Heres the last D&D game I played.
Post by: Valvorik on January 21, 2008, 12:21:03 PM
If you're asking for backstories, I think you should be upfront in what they have to tap into.  Tell them to imagine "this" as the picture of the front of the module (the coolest scene, your big fight at end) and "this" as the blurb on back, and then design backstories etc. that tap into "this".  Then elaborate and weave to create details responsive to their backstories and characters (e.g., if someone picks a dwarf, make sure there are foes of the types dwarves get bonus against).

Will the other players be up for gamist play - lots of the activity narrated in first post doesn't seem to be of a sort a D&D ruleset offers resolutions for, provides meaningful feedback on, if the players understood D&D they understood they weren't getting gold, XP, items for that, so what were they "getting out of, looking for" with those activities?

Have to say, I was amazed reading the post about DM handing the character both the facts of the backstory and what that meant for the PC's psychology ~ unless the Player had invited the GM's input etc. that's across a line even for most highly GM-lead D&D.

On the "testing only certain stats", In D&D, as a DM, you need to look at encounters and see to it that different skills, abilities, saving throw types are tested.  Distribution of threats and tests across range of what's on PC sheets is required to test character design and reward different choices.  For example, in a dragon heavy scenario Reflex saves will be called on often, in 3.0/3.5 Evasion will be a great boon.  To even that up, you need NPC spells, traps or other monsters that are Will and Fort saves.

If using standard EL/CR calculations remember dragons are intentionally supposed to be weighted at the high level of their CR.  A CR 15 dragon is supposed to be "a tough 15" if the designers did their job properly.

Rob





Title: Re: Hi! New here. Heres the last D&D game I played.
Post by: Kevin Vito on January 21, 2008, 01:20:40 PM
Well, for that final battle I was thinking I could give the players armies. I'm not sure how to handle that rules-wise (maybe 4th will have something), but if they have the combined might of the princess's kingdom and The Dark Lord's fiendish forces, plus some airships, I think it could be pulled off without having to get to 'epic levels'.

As for that backstory, I was thinking I could do some kind of 'choose your character' type thing where I give the players a few roles to choose from and fill in some really basic details, but the players get to fill in the specific details. For example, The Dark Lord. I know Richard is going to want to play as that guy. I'm thinking though that I can give him the basic details: Dark Lord, ruled a fiendish empire, got double-crossed and imprisoned in an urn, but I leave it to Rich to answer the following questions:
How did The Dark Lord become The Dark Lord in the first place?
Why is he so dark all the time?
What does he look like?
Is The Dark Lord human or something else? What are his classes?
Does The Dark Lord even have a name?

I know Megan is probably going to want to be the princess, because she is always some kind of princess. I'll leave it up to her to decide what she is the princess of (what is her kingdom like? Is she human?) and I'll leave it to her to decide why she was kidnapped (let her figure out all the ancient prophecies and such).

Eric is the one least concerned with storyline. I think he would probably be okay being The Dark Lord's last loyal warrior as long as he gets to kill things. I'd like for him to be some kind of monster so I think I'll just hand him the Monster Manual and say "anything within reason". Why does he still serve The Dark Lord? How did he joing the dark legion? Why?

Most importantly, I only have the beginning and the end planned out. The middle of the story will be up to the players.


Title: Re: Hi! New here. Heres the last D&D game I played.
Post by: Selene Tan on January 21, 2008, 06:16:36 PM
...Before that though, you have to fight his five children: a red dragon, a blue dragon, a green dragon, a black dragon, and a white dragon... all five at the same time.
The question is, even with the higher power level of a gestalt game, how do I get the players to the point where they can do this? Would a battle of this scale be possible for three players?

It's always possible if the characters are high enough level compared to the encounter level.

You might benefit from doing some "calibration encounters" with your players, though. Challenge Ratings are calculated for balanced parties of 4, and you'll have three players but gestalt classes. It will be helpful to run some other encounters to figure out whether you need to make mental adjustments when selecting encounter levels to get the desired difficulty level. (The d20 Encounter Calculator (http://www.penpaperpixel.org/tools/d20encountercalculator.htm) can give you some idea, but it assumes regular classes instead of gestalt.)

If the five dragons are all wyrmlings (the youngest/easiest age group), the encounter will be about CR 8, meaning a party with average level 8 will be able to take it out. So if you start the party at level 1, it'll be a while before they can handle the five dragons at once, but you certainly don't have to wait for epic level (20+) for that kind of encounter. (One of the nice things about D&D is that there are dragons for pretty much any level range.)

Regarding the backstory, definitely pitch it to the other players first. If they're only a little bit interested, find out what changes would make it really interesting for them. If they're not interested at all, it's best to scrap it, and ask them what they really want.


Title: Re: Hi! New here. Heres the last D&D game I played.
Post by: Callan S. on January 21, 2008, 07:32:19 PM
Hi Chrono,
Quote
Most importantly, I only have the beginning and the end planned out. The middle of the story will be up to the players.
Who advocates doing it this way - with you dedicing the end and players deciding the middle. What texts or people have you talked to who said 'Yeah, that's great!'?


Title: Re: Hi! New here. Heres the last D&D game I played.
Post by: Kevin Vito on January 21, 2008, 08:34:53 PM
Hmmm... well I had an idea for how I would like it to end and I thought maybe the players would get a kick out of it (better than having no end at all), but I see what you mean. Players should have more of a say in how they want things to end.
Maybe I could use my idea as an overall guideline but plenty of other things in there in case players want to go in a different path.
Any suggestions Callan?


Title: Re: Hi! New here. Heres the last D&D game I played.
Post by: Callan S. on January 24, 2008, 01:02:11 AM
Whoa, I never said 'players should have more of a say in how they want things to end'. I just asked what was encouraging you to decide the end. Is that what you want to do? That's cool - or is there something else you want to do? It's not a trick question - if you want to stick with deciding the ending that's cool. I think what you'd find fun to do will give us the clues we need.


Title: Re: Hi! New here. Heres the last D&D game I played.
Post by: contracycle on January 24, 2008, 07:29:57 AM
I have seen quite a few texts advocate having an ending in mind, although I would be hard pressed to cite any actual names.  Dragon magazine is popping into my head though.

As opposed to "wander about and hope something interesting just happens", it seems an improvement to me.  It provides a sense of purpose to immediate improvisation, in effect aids scene-framing decisions, permits the establishment of villains in good time and good order.  It can certainly work; the introductory Con-X game with FBI characters of which I gave an AP account some time ago was aimed at delivering the players to a particular point in a particular sequence, where they would witness an actual UFO for the first time; that worked out fine.  In my experience (which is clearly not universal), it is always better to have an ending in mind than not.  This is why existing ideas about R-maps and bangs just don't work for me.


Title: Re: Hi! New here. Heres the last D&D game I played.
Post by: Valvorik on January 24, 2008, 10:07:08 AM
I think the difference is between a default "having an ending in mind", and for that matter "having in mind what next would happen in players flail around and don't have answers to the 'what next' query" and an unbending "having in mind the only ending that will be permitted to emerge" and "guiding to that despite player choices" (= railroading).

For me, for example, since player action must matter, the default ending is "it all goes down in flames and here is how, according to the plan of the opposition carried off without effective interference", and then play determines if things move off that outcome as players interefere and/or pursue their own objective.  The key is to have an active opposition with "something it wants" that players are conflicting with or that doesn't want players getting their goal, as opposed to "an opposition minding its own business there in its tomb that players have to have a reason to roust".

I see relationship maps, conflicts etc. as the guide for the improvising responses to players when they interfere with the default progression of events.  And bangs something to "complicate" (make more fun) the player's lives and throw at them if play lags.

E.G., my understanding that the Flamewardens are helping the Masters of Leng only for cash (not really caring at all about the Masters' goals) and under terms of a contract, helps me decide what a Flamewarden prisoner, who survived a Masters attack on the PCs, tells players when questioned and hints to the players that they can neutralize the Flamewardens with money instead of fighting them if they so choose.




Title: Re: Hi! New here. Heres the last D&D game I played.
Post by: Kevin Vito on January 26, 2008, 05:53:24 PM
I just really want for the story to end in some kind of huge epic battle against Void and his dragon followers. How the players get to that point and how they prepare for that final show down is completely up to them. Actually, I wouldn't even say thats the ending. The ending will depend on the results of the battle I'd say. I'd kind of like for the players to win the battle though, but I don't want to make it easy on them to insure that they will.