Friday Favourite: Playing Someone Else’s Character

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on May 15, 2015

On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From October 11, 2011, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: Playing Someone Else’s Character.

In my experience there are two things that gamers like to talk about more than anything else: their own character and ways to improve everyone else’s character. Everyone always thinks that they have the very best character and most gamers want to tell you all about it. Yet no matter how awesome someone else believes their character is, someone always thinks they have a way to improve it.

As a DM I often ask the players to provide me with copies of their character sheets before I start a new campaign. By looking over their defenses, feats, powers, and items I can get a better idea of their power level relative to the other PCs and relative to my monsters. It also gives me a chance to suggest improvements and changes to their characters. In some cases the players will be grateful for pointing out better options (especially when they have two feats that don’t stack), but most times the player gracefully accepts the feedback and does nothing. After all they know that their character is already awesome so what business do I have telling them to make changes?

I realized that people become very attached to their characters. They see the PC as an extension of themselves and take great pride knowing that they’ve built this PC exactly the way they want to. Unfortunately this often blinds some players to the fact that their PC really isn’t as awesome as they think. If only there was a way to show those players just how much better their PC would be if they tweaked a few little details? And then it hit me – there is a way.

What if everyone had an opportunity to play someone else’s character? You think you know my character better than I do, well here’s your chance to prove it.

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Friday Favourite: The New Initiative – Talk then Fight

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on April 24, 2015

On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From September 12, 2012, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: The New Initiative – Talk then Fight.

diplomacy“Everyone, roll initiative.” When the DM speaks these magic words we all know that it’s time for combat. This is how D&D works. The players determine who goes in what order and then you have at it. Since initiative is tied to Dexterity, PCs with the highest Dex almost always go first. And what do you know, the powers for most strikers – Rogues, Rangers, Sorcerers, Monks, Vampires – are generally tied to Dex so this is usually their best stat. The result is that the PCs who have the best chance of inflicting the most damage will act first in combat more often than not. This is all well and good if your objective is to kill everything you come across, but every now and then don’t you think there should be an opportunity to talk to your opponents before the hot-headed striker does something stupid like acting first and killing something?

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D&D Encounters: Princes of the Apocalypse (Episode 1.4)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on April 22, 2015

princes-of-the-apocalypse-coverA group of well-intentioned adventurers travelled to a forgotten graveyard searching for evidence of a young girl’s imaginary friend whom they believe was actually a Ghost. When they found the spirit it merely asked them not to descend into his master’s crypt. When they did not comply the Ghost forced them to retreat. It was then they were set upon by grave robbers. In the end the PCs defeated the opportunistic thieves and decided to rest before facing the Ghost a second time.

At Face to Face Games in Toronto we ran two tables this week. Our numbers were down and we only had 11 players this week. The other DM had six while my group was down to only five. The perfect number in my opinion.

The party consisted of the following characters: Human Sorcerer (Wild Magic), Elf Bard, Goliath Bard, Half-Orc Barbarian/Druid, Dwarf Fighter. This was the week when the Wild Mage finally rolled a 1 and suffered the consequences of the mishap table. Read on to find out how that altered the encounter in unexpected and awesome ways.

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Friday Favourite: Should the DM Use a Screen?

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on April 17, 2015

On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From June 19, 2013, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: Should the DM Use a Screen?

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Picture by Mike Shea of Slyflourish.com

The DM’s screen – the great barrier that separates the DM from the players. Behind the screen the DM can do whatever he pleases. Personally I detest the DM’s screen. It forms a literal barrier that divides the table and cuts the DM off from the rest of the group. I feel that the screen only serves to perpetuate the incorrect belief that it’s the DM vs. the players. The screen denotes exclusivity and secrecy and in my vast gaming experiences it often gives the DM a false sense of self-worth, self-importance and power over the rest of the table.

Obviously the DM’s role in the game is different from that of the players. Yes, the DM has more to do, and controls all of the monsters, and decides on how things in the world play out, so I understand why some DMs get drunk with power. But there’s a simple way to level the playing field and bridge any ill will between the DM and players, and that’s to stop using the screen all together. I realize this may be scary for some DMs, so we’ll look at the most common reasons for using a screen and review the pros and cons of each.

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D&D Encounters: Princes of the Apocalypse (Episode 1.3)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on April 15, 2015

princes-of-the-apocalypse-coverWe ended our last session with the heroes defeating the bandits. There were 12 bandits in total, but the party of seven still made short work of them. Now it’s back to Red Larch to see what other trouble they can get into.

We ran two tables at Face to Face Games in Toronto, both full with seven players in each group. We’re still struggling to find a DM or convince any of the current players to take a chance as the DM.

My group had many familiar faces, but a few people were running different characters this week. Two wanted to try something different and one just forgot his real character so he used a pre-gen. We ended up with the following composition in our party: Human Sorcerer (Wild Magic), Elf Bard, Goliath Bard, Half-Orc Barbarian/Druid, Dwarf Fighter, Human Monk, and Halfling Rogue.

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Friday Favourite: Eldrick Tont – Defender of the Tiger Woods

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on April 10, 2015

On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From June 28, 2011, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: Eldrick Tont – Defender of the Tiger Woods.

Today Dungeon’s Master presents our contribution to this month’s RPG Blog Carnival: Memorable Characters Inspired From Real Life. The real life person, upon which my memorable character was inspired, is golf icon Tiger Woods.

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D&D Encounters: Princes of the Apocalypse (Episode 1.2)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on April 8, 2015

princes-of-the-apocalypse-coverWhile on the way to Red Larch the characters were beset upon by an Earth Elemental that was chasing Orcs and a Paladin of Torm. The PCs did a remarkable job of taking down the Elemental without suffering any loses. From there it was a relatively uneventful trip the rest of the way to Red Larch.

Our first session at Face to Face Games in Toronto didn’t really get beyond the initial random encounter, but this week the PCs had an opportunity to explore Red Larch and get to know some of the local NPCs. We were again busting at the seems with 14 players split between two tables. My group consisted of the following PCs: Goliath Bard, Elf Bard, Human Sorcerer (Wild Magic), Human Wizard, Human Warlock/Bard, Human Monk, and Half-Elf Sorcerer (Dragon Magic).

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Friday Favourite: Intelligent Magic Items

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on March 27, 2015

On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From July 14, 2009, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: Intelligent Magic Items.

Having a magic sword is one thing but having an intelligent magic sword is a whole new level of coolness. So far there are no mechanics in 4e Dungeons & Dragons for creating intelligent magic items. However a creative DM can always introduce one as he sees fit.

Continuing our look at magic items that began in yesterday’s article What’s a +1 Sword?, today I’m going to share some of the pros and cons I’ve experienced by introducing an intelligent magic item to my campaign. Over the years I’ve have many games that included intelligent items. It’s not something I would recommend for everyone, especially new gamers, but it can add a new and unpredictable element to your game.

I suspect that the forthcoming Adventurer’s Vault 2 will reintroduce us to intelligence items. There are also a few intelligent artifacts in the DMG if you need an immediate fix. Until then here are some of the pros and cons that come with intelligent items in D&D.

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D&D Encounters: Princes of the Apocalypse (Episode 1.1)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on March 25, 2015

princes-of-the-apocalypse-coverWe’re back! After a long absence D&D Encounters begins anew as do our weekly recaps. The new adventure path is called Elemental Evil and in the Princes of the Apocalypse the adventurers find themselves in the town of Red Larch where strange things are afoot.

I’d like to give a huge shout out to our FLGS, Face to Face Games in Toronto. They’re a relatively new game shop and this is the first season they’ve hosted D&D Encounters. For our first official session we ran two full tables with six players in each party. My group consisted of the following PCs: Goliath Bard, Elf Bard, Human Sorcerer (Wild Magic), Human Fighter, Human Monk, and Half-Elf Sorcerer (Dragon Magic).

Last week some of the players got together at our FLGS to make characters together. Afterwards we ran a session of The Lost Mines of Phandelver so they could get a feel for their new PCs. They earned just enough XP from that one session to reach level 2. So our two Bards began this week at level 2.

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Friday Favourite: What is the Town’s Attitude?

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on March 20, 2015

On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From February 20, 2013, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: What is the Town’s Attitude?

Kelmarsh medieval villageA lot of D&D adventures begin with the PCs arriving in town. In most cases it’s someplace the PCs have never been before so everything is new – the people, the locale, and the problems. This is just a natural part of the adventurer’s life; going from place to place, getting in adventures and helping people along the way.

I’ll admit that I’ve run many adventures that start just like this. It’s not a bad thing, but it is a bit boring. The longer you play D&D the more often this will happen and the more trivial each town will seem as you continue on your quest for adventure.

After playing through this scenario for the umpteenth time during last week’s D&D Encounters introduction it occurred to me that a clever DM can turn this traditionally boring introduction into something a lot more interesting by adding one little detail – the town’s attitude towards strangers.

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