Note: Although this article was written to address 4e most of the tips are just as applicable to 5e or any edition for that matter. – Ameron
One of the biggest criticisms I’ve heard about 4e D&D is that the combat takes too long. Sometimes it’s necessary to stop combat, assume the PCs will emerge victorious and keep things moving. When DMs find themselves in a situation where dragging out a combat encounter is just an exercise in rolling dice then it’s time to call the fight. We’ve already shared some of our methods for speeding up your game and as PCs move into the Paragon and Epic tiers of play DMs will find this latest tip more and more useful.
What do you do when you find yourself in possession of a stolen Red Dragon egg? What if you knew where to bring it but couldn’t get it there because it was too big to fit through the exit? Simple, find another exit that will accommodate the egg’s size. Oh, and don’t get caught with it or allow it to get cracked in the process. Just another day in the life of an adventuring party wandering through the Duergar city of Gracklstugh.
This week at Face to Face Games in Toronto we had fewer players than normal and only ran four tables, but we did have two new walk-ins so that helped round out the tables we did run. My group had six including one of the new players. He’d been playing at another FLGS and was new to our store, but not to D&D organized play. The party looked like this: Group A had the Human Monk, Human Rogue, and Half-Orc Barbarian; Group B had the Elf Wizard, the Dragonborn Fighter, and the new character a Halfling Rogue (Assassin).
Last week we only had the three players in Group A so they explored the Whorlstone Tunnels while Group B stayed by the entrance waiting for Droki. When we started this week the party was still divided into two groups.
Dancing Myconids, hallucinogenic spores, the blessing of the Demon Princess Zuggtomy, swarms of biting insects, a two-headed dog, a two-headed giant, and spellcasting Derro Dwarves were just some of the things the party faced during the last session while exploring the Whorlstone Tunnels. Three PCs were knocked unconscious and captured by the giant Ettin while two others planed for a daring rescue. Can things get any stranger? You bet they can; read on and find out.
This week at Face to Face Games in Toronto my table was down to only three players. The rest of the tables were all full with five and six players each. Fortunately the three players who were present in my group were the guys playing the three PCs who were knocked unconscious and captured at the end of last week’s session. That made things a lot easier for me as the DM to run. It also gave these three players a lot more face time during play. The party this week was made up of a Half-Orc Barbarian, Human Rogue, and Human Monk.
During the last session the heroes followed Droki into The Whorlstone Tunnels where they stumbled upon Buppido’s secret shrine dedicated to death and dismemberment. When the Derro spotted his fellow ex-prisoners he attacked them. The resulting battle was difficult and almost cost a few PCs’ their lives. In the end the party defeated Buppido and his minions, but not before he turned invisible and fled.
This week at Face to Face Games in Toronto we were back up to five tables with nearly 30 players. My group was back down to five heroes including the Dragonborn Fighter, Human Monk, Elf Wizard, Human Rogue, and Half-Orc Barbarian. Lots of offense, no healing magic. Guess how that worked out for them this week?
In our last session the PCs arrived in Gracklstugh, met the Red Dragon Wyrmsmith named Themberchaud, took a mission at the behest of the Keepers of the Flame, and battled a two-headed Stone Giant who was running mad through the streets in Darklake District. If you thought things couldn’t get any more exciting then read on and find out what this party did for an encore.
This week at Face to Face Games in Toronto we ran four full tables with six players in each group. My party of six had five regulars and one new addition, here’s how it broke down. Human Rogue, Elf Wizard, Dragonborn Fighter, Human Monk, and Half-Orc Barbarian (my returning players); Drow Rogue (new player).
After battling an Umber Hulk and a few mad Dwarven Barbarians, the party was really looking forward to the normalcy and predictability that comes with city adventuring. So it was onward to Gracklstugh. The NPCs Buppido (a Derro Dwarf) and Hemeth (a Duergar) were both from Gracklstugh so they gave the PCs a bit of a primer on the way so they’d know what to expect when they arrived.
This week at Face to Face Games in Toronto we ran four full tables. My table was back down to five as open of my regulars had to cancel. The rest of the party included a Human Rogue, Elf Wizard, Dragonborn Fighter, Half-Orc Barbarian, and Human Monk. Important to note was that the Wizard was the only character to speak Dwarven which would make things a lot more interesting in a Duergar city.
On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From June 10, 2013, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: When PCs Kill the Final Boss Too Soon.
As a player nothing bugs me more than a villain that is protected by the power of plot. No matter what happens, no matter how creative or lucky the PCs get during a direct confrontation early in the adventure, this one particular villain cannot be killed, captured or defeated because the DM needs him during the final showdown. It’s the biggest tease in gaming and it needs to stop.
Escaping the Ooze Temple was an ordeal that the party was happy to put behind them. They continued their journey towards Gracklstugh through the winding passages of the Underdark. For days they traveled, consuming all of their food and water stores and finding precious little to replenish it. Exhaustion was beginning to set in as some PCs began to go without food and water.
This week at Face to Face Games in Toronto I finally had my full group back together. The party of consisted of the following six characters: Human Rogue, Elf Wizard #1, new Elf Wizard #2, Dragonborn Fighter, Half-Orc Barbarian, and Human Monk. The player running Wizard #2 has now rebuilt his character three times. Hopefully he’ll be comfortable with this build and stick with it.
In the upcoming Lair Assault public play adventure series Wizards is introducing “Glory,” a new achievement system where players earn points for accomplishing different goals. However, not all Glory is earned for defeating the monsters. In order to encourage repeat play they’re awarding Glory for trying things you might not normally consider trying – one such scenario is playing a party where everyone is the same race.
Have you ever played in a party where everyone was the same race? Normally, when you’re creating a character you can choose from any race or class that interests you; the sky’s the limit. What this usually means is that the party ends up with five PCs each representing different races and classes, and that’s ok. In fact it’s practically expected. A party where everyone’s the same race is an anomaly in D&D. But after hearing that Wizards would reward players with special Glory for trying this unusual party make-up I started considering just what such a party might look like. The more I thought about it the more excited I got about where this might lead.
The party was still recovering after seeing the Demon Lord, Demogorgon, with their own eyes. Somehow Demogorgon was lose in the Underdark. A truly terrifying predicament. With Sloobludop destroyed behind them, the party needed to decide where to go next as they sought safe haven and a means to get back to the surface.
We ran four full tables of six at Face to Face Games in Toronto this week. My group had the following characters: Human Monk (3), Human Rogue (4), Drow Paladin (4), Elf Wizard (3), Dragonborn Fighter (3), and Human Druid (3). The party also had a few of the NPCs who escaped from the Drow prison with them including Buppido, Jimjar, Eldeth, and Stool. They’d also picked up a new companion, a Duergar named Hemeth who was to be sacrificed with them to the Deep Father in Sloobludop.