One of the more difficult things that new players have trouble remembering is that moving away from an opponent will draw an opportunity attack. As soon as players hear that moving their character more than one square away from an adjacent creature will result in that creature getting a free attack, all tactics that involve moving are thrown out the window. It’s almost as if they believe that drawing an attack and possibly taking the hit is the absolute worst thing that they can do on their turn.
As an experienced DM I’m going to tell you that you need to be willing to take an opportunity attack once in a while. From a mechanics point of view all opponents know as well as you do under what circumstances they’ll get to make a free attack on you. If you move away they’ll attack you as soon as your back is turned. If you try to use a ranged attack while standing next to them, they’ll see the hole in your defenses and attack you. And if you try to crawl away while prone you bet that you enemy will kick you as you scurry away.
But so what if they do? In most cases a monster’s basic attack is just that – basic. It usually is a straight up weapon attack, be it a sword or claw. Yes, it has the potential to hurt you but you need to weigh that against the value of taking the action that draws the attack in the first place.
You may expect this write-up to begin in the Manticores’ lair where a group of adventurers were keeping the Manticore eggs warm while planning what to do next. That adventuring party played under a new DM this week. The group I ran began the session back at the Feathergale Spire where they were given a hot lead on the missing delegation from Miramar.
We had another great turnout at Face to Face Games in Toronto this week. We’re now running four tables. We had 18 players this week, which we could have squished into three groups but we’re laying foundation for the weeks to come when we expect our numbers to be up over 20 again. I took on the table with the newest players. This has made it quite challenging to get any sort of consistency or ongoing story established, but I continue to do my best to ensure everyone is having fun.
My table had four players; one was new this week, the other three had each participated in two previous sessions. The party consisted of a Human Fighter, Half-Orc Ranger, Dragonborn Rogue, and Elf Wizard. The adventure assumes that by episode 4 the average party level is 4. My average party level was 2 which meant I had to curb back some numbers to ensure the PCs weren’t killed as soon as they encountered their first hostile opponent or trap.
“Manticore! It’s on the move!” shouted one of the Feathergale Knight sentries. All the Knights stood as one, dinners left uneaten, and words from tales of their greatest triumphs left hanging in the air. “We should take this opportunity to slay the monster,” said Thurl Merosska, commander of the Knights. He then removed a gold ring from his finger. Holding it up he offered it as a prize to whomever could bring him the Manticore’s head. The Knights ran to the stables to get on their flying mounts and vie for the prize.
This week at Face to Face Games in Toronto we ran three full tables with seven players at each. I was again running the new kids’ table. A few players were not completely new as they’d participated in one previous week of D&D Encounters or one session of D&D Expeditions; the rest were brand new. The party consisted of a Dwarf Fighter, Dragonborn Fighter, Human Paladin and four pre-gens –Dwarf Cleric, and three Halfling Rogues.
Very few games I’ve ever played in or run spend much time worrying about what PCs eat, how frequently they eat, or where they get the food that sustains them. It’s not usually an interesting part of the game so we gloss over it. Obviously every living creature eats, but we just assume that meals happen behind the scenes. Food is not usually an important part of D&D. But it can be if we make it so.
I gave up trying to track rations back in AD&D 2e. We just assume PCs have what they need to survive or buy it or hunt for it. Yet, whenever the DM presents the party with a chance to have a meal in-game most players have their characters participate. They recognize that life on the road likely means terrible food for their PC. When the party finally arrives in town they usually look for a soft bed and a good meal. It’s during these times that the DM can make food fun.
Today we share new adventure hooks to inspire DMs. They all revolve around food in some way. If everyone eats then anything that threatens the food supply will be seen as a big deal by most. It shouldn’t be too difficult to get PCs to bit on these hooks and then bite on some delicious food.
Our story picks up a few days following the events in the Tomb of Moving Stones. The PCs have once again proven to the people of Red Larch why they deserve the title of heroes. Following their subterranean adventures in the last session there were still some unanswered questions regarding what they found in the caverns. They also still had a score to settle with some of the local merchants who had sent the PCs into an ambush a few weeks before.
Unfortunately our story took a bit of a detour. We’ve done a great job of growing the public play program at our FLGS and we’ve expanded into three groups from two. One of the players from my group volunteered to step up and become the DM. He’s been doing a great job running D&D Expeditions adventures so we felt it was time to get him to be a full time D&D Encounters DM. He took over my table since he already knew all the players, their characters, and the intimate details of the story so far. That allowed me to take on the table of newbies.
This week at Face to Face Games in Toronto my table had five players. Three were new to D&D Encounters, one had played a single session a few weeks earlier, and one was a vet I borrowed from my old table for one session. The party shaped up like this: Elf Wizard (new), Human Fighter (new), Dragonborn Rogue (new), Dwarf Fighter – greatsword (one game), and Dwarf Fighter – hammer (veteran).
I decided to just start them at the beginning of episode 3 so that the tables all remained more or less at the same spot in the story. This meant I had to provide a quick recap of the important plot points and introduce the new players to Red Larch. I dropped most of the threads that my previous group left dangling to keep things as simple as possible.
Our hears had made names for themselves in Red Larch and were enjoying some downtime in the small town. However, as they got to know some of the locals they realized that some NPCs were not as friendly or helpful as others. This made the PCs suspicious. At the end of the previous session the PCs were given a map and told they’d find the answers they were looking for in the Sumber Hills, a few days journey outside of town. What they found was an ambush that nearly cost the PCs their lives. Enraged by the betrayal, the PCs rushed back to Red Larch to confront the people they believed set them up.
We continue to provide recaps from our past few sessions while we get back into the swing of things and get back to sharing our weekly adventures one week at a time, as they happen. Yesterday you read our episode 2.1 recap and today we’ve got episode 2.2. Tomorrow we’ll share episode 3.1 and that will bring us in synch with where we actually are at our FLGS, Face to Face Games in Toronto.
We’ve finally found another full-time DM so we’ve split our groups into three tables. We’re still trying to figure out who’s playing at which table and under which DM, but for now I’m still running with some familiar faces. During this session my party of four consisted of the following PCs: Elf Bard, Dwarf Fighter (Hammer), Human Sorcerer (Wild Magic), and Human Monk.
It’s been a few weeks since we last posted our D&D Encounters recaps. There were many contributing factors to the disruption including absent DMs, personal vacation, and real life conflicts with blog posting. However, we’re back on track now and plan to keep up the weekly posts as we have in the past. I realize that our adventures may be falling behind the pace of many other FLGS, but we hope you still find these reports entertaining, valuable, and helpful.
In order to get things back on track with our adventure recaps we’ll be posting three articles this week. Today is episode 2.1, Tuesday will be episode 2.2, and Wednesday will be episode 3.1. That will bring us back to even with our ongoing weekly adventures.
On Friday we comb through our extensive archives to find an older article that we feel deserves another look. From December 2, 2009, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: Playing Against Type.
When it comes to character creation you have a lot choice. If you take into account the current number of races (35) and classes (22) presented in character builder you can create over 770 different possible combinations. If you throw the Hybrid class into the mix the number continues to grow exponentially. And as more classes and races are introduced, the number of variations continues to increase. So if there are currently 770 different possible race/class combinations, why do we keep seeing the same ones over and over again?
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.
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.
“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?