Thursday, April 23, 2009

Rules and questions

I wanted to post something before we got started regarding rules. Not so much the rules of the game (though maybe there should be a post about that too) but more the rules of how we are going to play. On the whole, I'm really glad that we have a bit of a smaller group this time. I think that will keep the game a little more engaging for everyone and we won't be bogged down waiting for your turn to come back up again. While we aren't going to be in hurry whatsoever, I am going to try to keep the game moving along a little faster than we did last time just so encounters seem a little more exciting.

So two things in order to help move combat faster: 1) Roll attack roles and damage roles at the same time (I think this will save us a surprising amount of time). I'll also assume that you didn't crit unless you tell me you did. That way I won't have to ask, "wait, natural 20?" a bunch of times. 2) When doing any sort of AoE damage, roll the damage first and then attack roles to see who you hit (with bursts and blasts, there is one damage roll but attack roles for each individual enemy). Those two things (especially the first one) should help keep us moving along. As a general rule, giving some thought to what you are going to do next turn would be preferable though we won't expect anyone to be a master tactician so no worries if we get to your turn and you have no idea. Also, it would be great if we could visually represent initiative order. Does anyone have a mini-white board we could use? It would be great to just write everyone's name down once at the beginning of the night and then just write/erase the initiative order for each encounter.

Reading through the Dungeon Master's Guide also gave me some interesting questions to ponder and I thought I would throw them back at you guys to consider.

1) When you speak for your character, does it matter if you speak in 1st or 3rd person? This doesn't have a huge effect but would affect how role play is done. Same goes for me as the DM. Should the monsters/townspeople/etc. talk in first person or 3rd? Do we care at all?

2) Can player's offer advice if their characters aren't present or are unconscious? This again is mostly a role-playing consideration. I would even go further than this and ask whether we want to discuss strategy and offer advice in the middle of an encounter.
Ideas in favor of not giving advice/discussing include: This could bring up some really really interesting role-playing situations. Our party would be more like a sports team than a think-tank. We could totally discuss all the things your character can do when we’re outside of combat, but then when we’re fighting, it’s show time. Realistically, we couldn’t have a powwow on the battlefield to discuss who should go where, etc. We just have to react. In this way, the roleplaying would be really authentic because as we got better at understanding our class, our powers and everyone else’s play style, our party would become more and more efficient in combat. Moreover, I think Dan and I could easily fall in to over-strategizing and it would be to easy for the girls to more or less just do what we said, even if we we’re being mean about it. In this way, the girls take a more active role in combat. Obviously we could explain any rules or powers to them if they didn’t understand but at the end of it, just like it would be in real life, we’d just have to watch them make whatever decision they thought was best for themselves and for the team. Additionally (last point on this one, I promise), the roleplaying could be even further enhanced because everyone could fight in a manner consistent with their character. Is your character a coward? Run away and hide! Take 1 or 2 extra rounds to enter combat, hoping no one notices. Is your character brash and completely unable to be controlled? Bull rush the first dude you see, sprinting around from enemy to enemy, shrugging off their attacks of opportunity. Spend half the time bloodied or unconscious if that is what your character would do. Have fun!!
Ideas against being strict on this issue: It puts a lot of pressure on the girls, which they might or might not appreciate. But especially at the beginning, when everything is so new, they might like a bit of advice. Obviously I’m in favor of the first option since the point of D&D is to play a character, not play to the peak of your ability (it is fundamentally different than WoW in that regard) but this would have to fly with the ladies or it just wouldn’t work out.

3) Can players give other players info such as how many hit points they have left? Another really interesting role playing idea (The DMG was a really good read). Giving out hit point numbers definitely seems to fall into meta-gaming. I’ll know how many hit points you have and could always give a description of how the players looks, relative to their damage. And everyone will always know when someone (player or enemy) is bloodied (less than half their hit points left). This might be really fun and certainly makes things more realistic. (I am the anti-TC. I want you to have no information!!!!)

4) Can players take back what they’ve just said their character does? Are all actions final?

Well, there are some questions for you to ponder. Most are role playing related but I think our last session was really missing some good role playing. D&D is meant to be interactive story telling and I want to incorporate that more into our sessions. Hopefully that will make them much more fun and even a bit ridiculous. On that note, so everyone knows, every session there will be a 100XP role playing bonus that is available to every character. It will be given out only for excellent role playing during that night. It can be consistent role playing the whole time, or it can a single big monologue/backstory/impromptu-whatever. The xp bonus will likely go up as we level. So get hyped.

Let me know what you think. Another post is coming with the back story of what you are doing when we start on Saturday but I’m not sure when I’m going to get that out; might not be until Saturday morning.

1 comment:

Taran said...

A couple of comments:

1. Yeah, the whole, wait, natural 20? thing was getting really annoying. Usually people get super excited when they roll a natural, so just shout it out. If we want to role-play it, think about it as if you just buried your sword/arrow/claws into a dude's side. You yell out with primal satisfaction.

(I actually think this would be a great way to introduce catch phrases, if you are so inclined. Every time you crit, you shout your catch phrase, so Brian knows you crit. I could see Bethany yelling, "For the Feywild!" every time she crits.)

2. Addressing some of the in-combat role-playing do's and don't's. I think we're going to have to play the first encounter and maybe the second with no restrictions on "table talk." If we had a chance to play through a practice encounter to get an idea of how all our abilities work, I would say that we could jump right in to that kind of thing, but I think asking questions is going to be common our first couple nights.

Beyond that, I think we'll play it by ear. I don't mind taking the role of party leader (it's kind of in my nature to do that anyway), but I certainly don't want to be directing combat tactics. It's not really roleplaying that way, and I think it will detract from the fun for everyone.

As for speech, I think we can mix it up. When I speak with my character, I'll do it in first person, but I'm also going to be describing what my character is doing in first person narration style. For Brian, I would say that you should do all your DMing as a third person narrator while you play Anca as a first person narrator.

3. As for hit points, I think your character can describe how hurt they are. For example:

Alasse (Angela's Cleric): Taran, are you hurt? Do you need healing?

Taran: I've got a few nicks and bruises, but I'm doing alright.

Bethany: Umm, my arm has been nearly severed from my body. Little help here?

Speaking is a free action, so I think it's cool if we allow that kind of table talk no matter what.

As an addendum to that, we need to start thinking of all of our skills in "real life" ways. I'm not doing a perception check on a group of trees down the road. I'm looking carefully for something that may be hidden.

I'm not doing a bluff check to fool an innkeeper into thinking we're a ballet troupe. I would describe what I'm telling the innkeeper to make him think that. Brian, as DM, will be in charge of telling us what we need to roll, so don't think of your skills as dice.

4. Are all actions final? I think we can play this by ear. If it's an honest mistake (ooops, that's not what I meant, I wanted to use the action that did this), then I don't see a problem with allowing "do-overs." But otherwise, no, you can't undo your action.

I really would like to get into a more role playing type of game, but within reason. I'm not going to speak with an accent or anything like that. But I do think it will be fun if you play the character the way you want to play, and not the way I expect you to play or the way you think will be best for the group. It may be that those are the same things, but if they're not, don't be afraid to do something unusual. I think with TC, we were very locked in to doing things a certain way, and there wasn't much of an opportunity for going against the grain. It will still be more fun if we're acting like a team, but be your own character!