During a recent game I took note of all the things the players at my gaming table, me included, could be doing better or doing differently. What I came up with was a list of general reminders that all players should review. Most of these are common sense kind of reminders, but I’m amazed at how often PCs forget to do the most obvious things. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to the game or the most experienced player in the room, everyone benefits from a quick refresher.
Make active Perception checks
Good DMs employ good tactics
Always do the math
Use you daily powers
Ongoing damage adds up fast
Don’t be the guy who slows down the game
Stealth is always an option
Dice hate everyone equally
Don’t forget, you’re supposed to be having fun
I don’t need to make active Perception checks, my passive Perception is 24.
I’ve discovered that DMs love to have their monsters use Stealth. The monsters wouldn’t be sneaking if they weren’t good at it. So make those active rolls. After all, the passive roll is only the equivalent of rolling 10. That mans you’ve got a 50% chance of rolling a higher number. If you can’t see an opponent, make active checks. You’ve got everything to gain and your life to loose.
The minions move to flank you, the archers all target you and the Wizard targets you with a spell that won’t hurt his allies.
Just because the PCs are too dumb to use good tactics doesn’t mean that the DM should follow suit. In most cases there are suggested tactics printed right in the monster’s description. So don’t get angry at a good DM for using smart tactics. Even if those tactics result in all the monsters ganging up on one PC.
Damn, I rolled a 4. Oh well, that’s going to miss.
Never assume that a roll is a miss. Apply the relevant bonuses and call out the number. Let the DM tell you if it was a hit or a miss. This is especially true if you’re attacking Fort, Ref or Will.
Just because a number missed last time doesn’t necessarily mean that it will always be a miss. Between situational modifiers, one-time powers and ongoing conditions your target numbers will fluctuate as the battle continues.
I don’t know if I should use my daily yet. After all, he could just be a minion. I want to save my big attack for when it will do the most good.
Use those daily powers! I’d rather use my daily and kill a single minion, or even miss the target all together than get an extended rest and realize I haven’t used my dailies. They’re your biggest and best attacks. If you use them in the first encounter and then get an unexpected extended rest it’s like having twice as many daily powers. Stop hording and start using. This goes for action points too!
You take 5 ongoing acid damage from that bite. And then you take another 5 ongoing necrotic damage from this attack. And because you’re in the creature’s aura at the start of your turn you’ll take 5 more cold damage.
When I first began playing 4e D&D I thought the feat Human Perseverance was dumb. I mean, really, how often will +1 on a save really come into play. As it turns out, a lot! As the PCs get tougher they seem to be subjected to more and more attacks that do ongoing damage. At first it’s not a big deal, but after failing the saves three rounds in a row you realize that you just lost over half your hit points to ongoing damage. Worse still, if you fall unconscious the ongoing damage still hurts you as you inch closer and closer to permanent death. Items that provide bonuses to saves should be coveted above all others. I no longer scoff at feats that only provide a +1 bonus to saves.
So on that attack I did 11 points of damage. No, wait, I think I have a power that gives me +1 more damage. Or was it +2. You know it might not really apply in this circumstance. Let me look it up just to be sure.
In the grand scheme of things, 1 or 2 points of damage rarely makes a difference. Slowing the game down to look up some obscure rule is not cool. If you’re not sure about something use your best judgment and move on. If the monster’s not even bloodied then 1 point shouldn’t really matter. Put you time (and the time of everyone else at the table) to better use and just keep the game moving.
I may be a Fighter with a measly +5 in Stealth, but I’m going to try and move closer to the camp without being detected. Holy crap, I rolled a 15. Hey guys I’m being stealthy.
The monsters aren’t the only ones who can be sneaky. Although only a few classes provide PCs with the choice to train in Stealth, you can still attempt to be sneaky. Much like the PCs, monsters will generally be using their passive numbers to detect approaching adventurers. This may not be true if they have sentries posted, but in most cases a decent roll will let you gain a huge advantage by moving silently. Never assume that the party will be too noisy until you actually blow a Stealth check.
Ouch, the monster hit you again. You take 4d6 damage… I don’t believe it: 7 damage. I rolled a 1-2-1-3.
Dice are finicky and indiscriminate. You assume that bad things happen to PCs because their dice roll poorly (and might even be out to get them), but DMs are susceptible to bad rolls too. Don’t count on it happening a lot, but every now and then the PCs catch a break and the DM’s dice go cold.
My character would be so outraged by this turn of events that he’d storm out and refuse to participate in the coming fight.
There are times when the out-of-game decisions are more important than the in-game decisions (as I was reminded not too long ago when a PC was killed). Sometimes it’s more important to ignore the negative, in-game consequences for the betterment of the out-of-game players. Taking an unpopular in-game action may be good role-playing… sometimes. If it creates too much friction or tension at the table for the real life players then perhaps it’s time to just do what’s best out-of-character even if it’s not the best choice for your PC. It’s just a game and we’re all supposed to be having fun.
Damn it! I missed again.
Even though it’s not your turn you need to pay attention to what’s going on around you. Many classes have powers that will lower monsters defenses or provide you with bonuses to hit. If you aren’t paying attention when the Wizard casts a spell then you may not realize that the 16 that missed was really an 18 that would have hit.
If you’re playing in an LFR game and there are +1 reward cards on the table, paying attention to these details becomes even more important. Knowing that a 17 hit last round means that using the +1 can turn 16 into a hit.
Paying attention will also let you put immediate actions to their best use. But you have to know what they do and under which circumstances you can actually use them.
If you found these reminders helpful, you should also check out the 10 Things I Learned at Worldwide D&D Game Day.
What other tips and reminders do you think all players should keep in mind? Are there obvious actions or common sense tips that you think we’d all benefit from doing? Let us know in the comments section below.