[D&D 4E] Start at 7th level and create a fear...

Started by Callan S., August 21, 2011, 01:10:19 AM

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Callan S.

A guy (let's call him P. because I don't feel I have permission to use his name) started running a game at the local store now, having downloaded a 1-30 campaign from the wizards site (campaign was made 3 years ago). Basically these seem to revolve around one combat encounter per session, with a bit of fivering about beforehand (occasionally to the point of mollases) and stuff like "So, do you go where they said...well, since there wont be anything if you don't go" literally said at the table by the GM (I sometimes wonder if Australian players are considerably more explicit about this stuff than American players). Naturally we could see this is the case, so after a joke from me about going to plant turnips, we head there. I'm not sure what these supposed choices are there for (basically it's built into the module) - they remind me of gill lines on someones neck. Just a throwback to something that is no longer the case. It's like we have to still maintain a veneer of this being about characters, instead of being chess. Yet were slated for that next encounter, regardless. Guess it becomes participationism at that point "Yes, were playing characters who really choose this path...*now we all make a bunch of out of character jokes, habitually, since breaking the fourth wall is really the dominant source of amusement while outside of combat...since were not playing characters who choose their future*

Anyway, we were asked by P. to invent a fear and a background for our character, to bring to the next session. I kind of inwardly groaned at this - I know how this works. Oh, I'm afraid of water - so now the GM takes over my character for X amount of real minutes and that's 'roleplaying' fun. Oh, and the GM actually was the one that decided water was there, so at any freakin' moment he wants, he'll bring it in and thus at any freakin' moment, he'll take over my character for an indeterminant time and I'm to smile like not playing for as long as he feels like, is fun. Of course, it's not malicious - most people are trapped by the fiction side and can't see what it results in on the RL side, so to him it's just doing the fiction. So, intent wise they are perfectly innocent, while they on a whim decide your doing nothing for X minutes.......Fuuuuuuuuuuuuu.....

As a joke, I said 'commitment', amidst a bunch of other joke suggestions from other people at the table. But after the game I actually took a shine to 'commitment'. I thought my PC had a lass who wanted to settle down (and she travels around, so she could turn up at any time - I know a GM needs some help in making her relevant at any time). But the big thing is, you know, you could have some freakin' character development possibly? Like maybe he changes at some point and adopts commitment. Or maybe he doesn't? You know, your not just playing a clockwork toy who's clockwork always acts the same way?

"That's not really what I had in mind...what about you *looks to player next to me* yours was more like it". The player next to me, L., says his ranger elf is afraid of towns.

Let's just skip forward in time - we obviously end up at a town. "So, should my guy start making saving rolls now! For my penalties when in town?" L. earnestly asks. And I think, saving throws for what? Your penalties will affect...what? Were in town, we are not fighting. It'll mean jack shit. "Oh, it was dark when you came in" the P. the GM says and I can't remember the specifics, but they back and forth on reasons "people weren't around, it was night" why it doesn't apply here.

Oh, speaking of combat, we go into a building where we talk with a sword. Being D&D geeks, I'm sure this needs no further note. But, alarums! The building is attacked and the attackers throw fire into the building! Even onto the very table the sword is lying on! And elsewhere in the building!

And I just freakin' realised as I write, were indoors, in a building thats on fire...and the PC afraid of towns...no, it doesn't come up at all. Not from the GM, not from the player.

Soooo, back again to "See, what L. said, that's more what I had in mind. What do you do when she shows up".

Err, ummm. I run away?

I think I've boned myself. I should have just said -5 penalties like L. did, since he atleast still gets to hang around and hope for a nat 20. Not that he got -5 penalties...

AND it's clock work. I will run away from her until the sun grows cold.

On the fight itself? Got to kill some guys with my character - it's nice being able to play a fighter, yet still have to think instead of just roll, ala previous editions (no more just sticking to wizards and clerics for me now!) Go CLEAVElan! He cleaves, BTW.


It seems to me the GM just isn't very experienced. I am glad you noted that everything is probably with the best of intentions, but he just isn't very good at GM'ing. I think it's actually a problem that usually arises at the player's end, and you are just unfortunate enough to have an inexperienced GM instead of a player.

You see, I've GM'd a handful of time, and I take a lot of time preparing for things, only to find out all my players want is kick butt and buy meat instead of necessary potions (ie. be goofy) to bring on the trip. (true story this) In this, the players didn't really care for their characters other than their skill set, and they didn't really care for story other than being able to kick ass. They were either too inexperienced, as was the case of the Elf Paladin whose first and only action during the entire scenario was hiding behind a wall in the final encounter, or they understood the notion of roleplay, but explicitly went against it, as was the case of the wizard Bob who wanted nothing but to buy a kilogram of meat and listen to his I-Pod.

I didn't really mind so I went with it, but if I had been a player, having taken the time to flesh out my character only to be confronted by nonsense like this, I would've been agitated. As you were saying, in this case the GM really made an effort and just wasn't very good, so I do believe that if you were to discuss the situation with him he would be willing to listen.

Callan S.


I think I will talk with him to try and shift over to a -5 penalty thing. When he said fears previously I just assumed it would always be running away, until L. came up with the -5 to everything.

Otherwise, the thing is, he's already implemented this. How can we go with any design structure, if the moment someone gets upset or predicts getting upset, we change? What if what we change to upsets someone? And so on, in a continual tumult of trying to appease everyone but simply annoying someone else with the new implementation?

It's like beer - the bitterness is unpleasant, but then it becomes part of an overall stimulating experience. But if you balk at the taste from the start, then you miss out on that experience.

So you have to have some gusto for riding out unpleasantness, if your going to go anywhere new.

The thing is, he brought along his concoction and just distributed it straight off. No one got to be in on the creation of that concoction and the time for that has passed.

Or atleast, one can't go back to the creation phase simply because one doesn't like it or predicts one wont like it.

Though I could ask if the idea of other people giving input on the creation phase would be of interest to him. He might never have thought of it and it might strike him as something he does want and so we go back to the creation phase for that reason.


Is this campaign going to be long? From what I read, it seems to be a short term deal, so you could always talk to him or her after the campaign about what you liked and what you felt could use some improvement (in that order).

At the end of the day, it's all about having a good time. The only thing is I feel people should be considerate with the GM, since he or she takes a lot of time prepping (usually) and if it doesn't go too well then it is best to just try and take enjoyment out of it regardless and talk about it afterwards. I am sure the GM doesn't want people to not enjoy it, and if there are things he or she can improve to better the experience, I am sure it will be appreciated if that is talked about.

And about that beer thing, it is a good idea to introduce some beer into the campaign. That always works for me. Teehee.


It sounds to me like the "fears" and background arent meant to be significant mechanically or thematically.  They are color, they give some personality to the characters but I wouldnt look to them as anymore important than speaking in a funny voice for the character. 

Not sure I understand the last little bit but when the girl shows up your character runs away?   It doesnt sound like you are all that interested in exploring the commitment issues with the girl either.  I ran into something similar playing Gurps and taking disadvantages like an enemy or a dependant or patron.  Often the GM had no idea how to use them and I didnt have much of an idea how to interact with them in any significant way if they did show up in play so they were pretty much ignored.


Caldis has a point. I was just thinking "What are my (personal) fears?"
When I was in high school I loathed having to speak in front of the class... Nightmarish. Now, I am a teacher. I took care of that particular fear and bent it to bettering myself as a person.

Perhaps the "fear" was indeed a way for the GM to make players invest in their characters, perhaps to come up with something for the characters specifically, so that it wasn't so much a mechanic as a way of delivering a story that included the characters.

I would definitely talk to the GM.

Callan S.


QuoteNot sure I understand the last little bit but when the girl shows up your character runs away?   It doesnt sound like you are all that interested in exploring the commitment issues with the girl either.

Can you see I wasn't asked a question that had room for exploration? I was asked in advance of the actual play moment, to predecide my choice. The other option would be to marry her the moment I see her, which isn't exploratory nor much of a fear, either.

The shape of his question and what answers that question allows and doesn't allow, is significant.

I'll admit, I had this lil' gamer fantasy of my own that I'd say "commitment" and he'd get a little lightbulb above his head and go "Awww...I see what you did there! Possibilities!".

Hopefully, as said, I can shift to -5 penalties instead.