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4:00 PM
@kviiri Maybe come up with some barebones campaign premises or genres, then pitch them as options to the players. That's what I do.
 
The sandboxiness might be a bit frustrating for the kind of a short game we're planning for - it's all about stuff (eg. Villains) evolving over time, but there's not necessarily enough time for this evolution to happen.
@MikeQ Yeah, here's another problem: I wrote down a short (about 1.5 pages) of campaign premise and sent it to my players as a Request for Comments: "Is this what you want?", "What would you like to do in this kind of a scenario?" and such
But replies have been rather laconic
 
I wouldn't even go that far. For short games, what I do is come up with a list of short, but specific, story genres (Local vigilantes, Haunted house, Eldritch horror, monster hunters, etc.) and tell them to pick/rank those that they would like
What do you mean by evolving?
 
@MikeQ Well, there's rules for players powering up by completing individual quests: sort of 7th Sea's version of level ups, but requiring a lot more "personalized" effort to complete, which might be a difficult thing to pace when the campaign is very short.
There's also rules for Villains gaining influence over time by completing plots.
You know, stuff like that where the players have the freedom to do or not do things and see the outcome later.
 
Okay, so you're concerned about the campaign schedule lining up with the narrative schedule. What about inserting time skips in between (some) sessions?
 
It's not that simple, at least for the personalized stories
Because they're, as far as I've understood, meant to be really rather personal stuff, so the players' stories might not align up very well at all times.
Okay, it's something we could rule, but the whole point of Stories (as a mechanic) is to provide incentives to pursue some goal by rewarding it. If the players have no time to enjoy the reward, we might as well just drop the mechanical part altogether and make it a 100% narrative thing.
 
4:12 PM
Is 7th sea a system or a setting?
 
The idea of putting time skips in between sessions is so that (some) individual character development can happen "off-screen". If that's not what you want, then yeah don't do that.
 
@SimonH. Both. It's a very extensive setting that I'd describe as a theme park version of European history, with a system that I think is similar to L5R.
@MikeQ Yeah, I see that, but these stories are along the lines of "I'm a noble robbed of my identity, I must find my way back to the Avalonian court!" and so. It's too major to do off-screen.
I do like time skips in general though
 
@kviiri Okay, maybe... try to structure each session so that some of it lets all the characters pursue their individual (or group) stuff, and the other part of it will focus on one character's story. And you focus on a different character's story each session.
And I suppose if multiple characters' storylines can be combined, then focus on both of them
 
@MikeQ One of the things I've been trying to pry off my group is, indeed, what's their desired focus on the character <--> group continuum. :<
 
I'm not familiar with how 7th sea does character creation, but maybe you could gauge on how much effort they put into their backstory and whatnot?
 
4:17 PM
Not any, yet - we agreed to do the character creation together (since we've had overwhelmingly better dynamics that way before). Of course coming up with concepts is something we do, like bouncing ideas and such
 
If the aristocrat's backstory is a 5-page epic tale of intrigue and deceit, and has unresolved elements that can be weaved into your story, then you can bet the player really cares about the character, and it would nice if the GM gave them the payoff
 
But on a more general level of "what would you like to see in this game", I'm still very much in the dark.
 
Whereas if the mercenary's backstory is "They want money I guess so they're going on an adventure", then you probably don't have to focus too much on developing that character
 
@SimonH. If you're interested you can find the setting and basic rules here: johnwickpresents.com/7th-sea-basic-rules
The setting is a rather entertaining read, IMO!
At least for a history buff like myself.
 
@kviiri Dunno if you're familiar with graphic design or similar fields, but it's kind of like pitching to a client. Questions like "What do you want it to have" or "What do you want it to look like" are too open ended and are best avoided - there's a general assumption that the client doesn't really know what they want
 
4:21 PM
@MikeQ Now... that actually sounds like BESW level advice
I hadn't really considered that!
 
@kviiri And if you're in the dark, then ask yourself: What do you, as GM, want to see in the game?
 
@MikeQ I want to see my players happy ^^
 
That's a good start. What sort of challenges, both mechanical and narrative, would you like to see the players deal with?
 
(I do like all kinds of intrigue and politicking, which I think they'll agree with)
@MikeQ In the campaign pitch, based on a very vague suggestion that a player wants to see politics, there's a young king who is going on a military campaign to secure an ally, but without a clear line of succession should they die on the field. In the event of the king's death, the two likely candidates are such polarizing figures they're likely to create a continent-wide war.
 
4:26 PM
That sort of summarizes the stuff I like: there's no clear evil, just greedy yet ultimately well-intentioned people vying for the throne.
 
You could also include information on the setting that their characters should know to hook them in. Describe the different traditions and holidays they have or the architecture and government.
 
@SimonH. I've linked them the setting pdf
And asked them to ask any questions that might spring to mind
I feel as if they weren't really interested, but then again, they're also busy people and we haven't even scheduled a session zero yet so...
 
@kviiri Oh, so you're using the games premade setting. That's cool.
 
@SimonH. Yeah, the setting's too rich to be ignored. Even the Castilian king on the military campaign is an actual figure in the game (although his campaign and succession crisis are my additions)
 
@kviiri That's pretty rad. Have you asked them whether they prefer rollplay or roleplay yet? That's sounds pretty role-oriented.
 
4:34 PM
Another recommendation for making PC-centric games: Leave a LOT of empty space in your lore, so you can fit in more of the PCs' storylines into the overarching story
 
Hey, could I ask you guys a question about a game I'm running? I need some advice.
 
@SimonH. Well, they would probably say "roleplay", but I find that distinction to be rather artificial at times.
 
@SimonH. What? Advice in the advice room? How absurd!
 
O-oh. I'll see myself out o-o
 
But yes, ask away!
 
4:37 PM
@MikeQ Yeah, that's a good one. The in-built setting is already quite rife with all kinds of plot hooks (corrupt Inquisition hounding honest scholars, people wanting to overthrow their kings, secret societies and monster hunters...) and my additions, I hope, add instead of detracting from all the cool stuff they could partake in
 
I'm using a homebrew 5e setting and having trouble keeping my players engaged. They have every opportunity to pick which direction they'd like to head (I always give them options on what they can do in the plot) but when they're fighting monsters or buying equipment, they seem really unsatisfied.
 
@kviiri That too, but I meant more along the lines of making the PCs have a more important role in the game's lore. For example, do the players meet the long-lost heir to the throne, a quest-giving NPC who makes them do all the heavy work? Or will there be a mid-game reveal that one of the PCs is unknowingly the heir?
 
Have you talked with your players about what they're interested in?
 
@MikeQ That's another good idea. I'll pitch that
 
@kviiri Those were questions for you. Don't pitch potential spoilers to your players!
 
4:39 PM
@MikeQ And if you're playing an Eastern-themed campaign, one of your PCs could unknowingly be the hair (of the Monkey King)!
 
@SimonH. Unsatisfied how? Too easy or too hard?
 
@MikeQ I dunno, the last one is one I'd be reluctant to run without making sure the player's fine with it first :P
 
@MikeQ Like all they care about are parts of the game that feel like videogames
 
@kviiri If you're going that route, perhaps you could leave it open. Drop a hint that one of them could be the heir (or other plot-relevant thing), see how they react, then you choose.
@SimonH. I don't know what you mean. Could you give a specific example?
 
@MikeQ Loot, dungeon exploring, quests. Trope-y video game stuff, but I don't understand how that should work in a tabletop setting :/
 
4:43 PM
@SimonH. I meant, can you give an example where they did a thing and then expressed that they were dissatisfied?
 
@MikeQ I've got a rough idea on what might happen if there's a war of succession (the players could try to avert it, of course). Basically one of the candidates is a hardliner religious conservative who has no intention of stopping the corrupt governance of the Inquisition (should be noted that in this setting, the Totally-Not-Catholic-Church is actually pretty pro-science until recently when their secret service couped it)
 
@SimonH. and what parts of the session were they extremely satisfied with?
 
And the other is a power-hungry Constitutional Monarchist ("Constitutional" just for popularity points among the downtrodden) who has a ragtag bunch of allies that will fracture in a civil war of their own the moment they win.
 
@MikeQ I set up a dungeon in the ruins of a recently-attacked city. A character was held hostage and they had to save them. While trying to figure out how to get through past a hot steam trap, one player stopped paying attention and went on their phone
The times when they seemed most satisfied was when they were counting their loot and then using that loot to break the game
I had an encounter in a desert that the healer used a broom to fly above while only getting close enough to heal teammates
 
Well, that's a pretty common DnD problem.
The system doesn't really enforce a lot of rules or principles outside the relatively rigid combat engine, so expectations and results vary a lot between tables and players.
 
4:47 PM
Yeah, this seems less about designing "good" content, and more like an issue of table dynamic to keep the players interested in the game itself. And that depends heavily on the individual players.
 
Clearly, the solution is to clap them all in chains and make them gladiators.
 
Should I try to design more challenging content, then?
 
@SimonH. Maybe. I'd say step 1 is to try diversifying the content. If some players are interested in combat, and some are interested in maximizing numbers, and some are interested in intrigue, then try to have a little something for everyone.
 
Gladiators... I know you're joking but I might try an arena plot next lol
 
@SimonH. Generally, combat should be challenging to be interesting. DND isn't meant to simulate a video game, so I recommend forgetting what you know about video game design convention. Eliminate anything that resembles "grinding", like filling a dungeon with easy enemies up until the boss.
 
4:51 PM
@MikeQ Yeah, I stopped using random encounters early on
They weren't liking that
 
@SimonH. Puzzles are boring, that's just how it is. Playing the "guess what the DM is thinking" game is not as fun as the "colossal lasers that mow down our enemies" game
 
@SPavel What about combat puzzles?
 
@SimonH. Combining the worst things about puzzles and combat
 
@SimonH. Depends on what that means. Could you elaborate?
 
There's a reason that puzzle monsters are loathed universally
 
4:53 PM
I like combat puzzles, but they're tricky to get right. Basically you want something that adds interesting and meaningful options to combat without removing things that already work.
(and I, personally, hate things in the vein of "spend an action to try something that might not even have a chance to succeed")
 
I get what you mean, but instead of "only 1 solution" puzzles I mean "improvise a way to win with everything you have" kind of puzzles
 
(had gone to lunch)
TL;DM is two guys that DM separate games in the same world. Each one plays in the other's game alongside the other X-number of players. They talk about ways to handle general in-game problems (as well as specific ones to their world) as DMs.
 
@SimonH. That seems fair, in general. But I still don't know what you mean by "combat puzzles".
 
@SimonH. By "improvise", do you mean in the scope of the existing mechanics (eg. pushing enemies to a pit to cause falling damage, jumping in a pond to have fire damage resistance) or through improvised actions?
Like the classic "I swing from the chandelier!"
 
Like if there was a nest of spiders in a dungeon with too many spiders to win against right after they bought alchemist's fire or something
Ones where they can exploit their items to win if they think about it
 
4:57 PM
@SimonH. Okay, yeah, that's bad. Too many people assume that if it works in Zelda, then it works everywhere.
It really, really doesn't work in freeform games. If the boss is immune to everything until you do one specific thing (use the MacGuffin, say the magic words, insult its mother, etc) then you're preventing the players from fighting in the way they want to.
 
@MikeQ I don't mean "It's impervious to everything but one thing!"
I mean "It's weak to one thing but not unkillable otherwise"
I hate it in RPGs where the bosses are status-effect proof
 
@SimonH. So you meant that the players got alchemists fire, then they encountered the spiders?
 
@MikeQ Precisely
 
I see your thinking. The players invested in a thing, now here's some context where it can pay off. Nothing really wrong with that.
 
@SimonH. Have you tried any other system than DnD 5e? It might give you and your players a better idea on what you like and what you don't in your current game
 
5:02 PM
@kviiri No, but I'm interested in trying warhammer fantasy.
 
@kviiri I dunno, it doesn't sound like the problem is with the game itself. It sounds more like the issue is with the DM-player-interaction, such as setting up rules to limit out-of-game distractions.
 
Like no phones?
 
No phone games. People may still need their phones for important-ish purposes.
 
@MikeQ Yeah, but those don't exist in a vacuum either.
I find that I understand what I like and what I don't like in games better and better with each system I try, and that's a rather big part of having a fun time
 
@kviiri What's your favorite system, then? I've never played anything but D&D and a bit of pathfinder (a while back).
 
5:06 PM
@SimonH. Those are not necessarily bad things. It sounds like your players want to figure out cool stuff to do where they appear to be 'gaming' the system.
 
@SimonH. A while ago, I would've said Apocalypse World, but now it's a bit more complicated. I guess I'm less and less inclined to put systems in an order of preference, because they're good at different things.
 
One answer is: Give it to them.
 
@SimonH. I think they're saying that some systems are better than others for different types of campaigns. DnD works great for dungeons and adventuring, but not so great for a slice-of-life high school mystery.
 
Create encounters where they HAVE to figure something out. Challenge them and give htem cool tools for the challenge.
THey'll feel awesome when they figure it out and you'll have fun making it hard until they do.
but Yes, no phones unless it's an emergency.
 
I used to hate 4e for example, because it's so heavily based on combat. But now I'd very much like it for games that are meant to be heavily based on combat. :)
 
5:09 PM
Fun fact: The phrase "I can multitask when it's not my turn" actually translates to "I'm not paying attention to combat and will need to catch up on what's going on"
4
 
I think the problem with Zelda-style puzzle bosses in D&D is not with the puzzle boss concept itself but rather a general misunderstanding of game design.
People keep looking at the bosses in Zelda in isolation when the boss is the crystallization of the theme of a dungeon.
Rather than designing a boss because it's cool, the whole dungeon needs to revolve around a mechanic to help enforce the concept in the players' minds.
 
@Yuuki Also: You get trial-and-error on most video game bosses, so you can try different stuff and retry if it doesn't work. Usually you don't get infinite retrys in DnD.
 
Think about the puzzle bosses in Zelda. Each one has a mechanic that is iterated on throughout the dungeon. Gohma's eye weakness is repeatedly enforced throughout the dungeon by the acquisition of the slingshot and the use of the slingshot to trigger switches throughout the dungeon.
 
@SimonH. Basically I fell in love with Apocalypse World because of its relatively simple ruleset: there's only one roll (2d6 + bonus/malus) and everything just happens so fast when needed. Later on, I figured out the game has a lot of subtler things that work well for me and in the kind of game AW wants to be.
 
Switches that, incidentally, look like eyes.
 
5:13 PM
@Yuuki Hey, Doom has those too!
 
You can't just design a boss with a cool mechanic that your players have to figure out. You have to design an entire dungeon and boss around that mechanic.
 
@MikeQ And no one actually multitasks well
 
@Yuuki So the boss is like a test, or sorts
 
@SimonH. Exactly.
 
@SimonH. Yes, but again, that doesn't really translate well from video games to tabletop games. For example, the most difficult part of the "dungeon" does not necessarily have to be at the end.
 
5:14 PM
If only mods (read: people who are not me) are supposed to star things, am I allowed to star things that have already been starred?
 
@SimonH. Where the encounters leading up to that boss are all 'hints' or information that they'll need to defeat the boss.
 
@goodguy5 Huh? Non-mods can't star things in this room?
 
My favorite "puzzle boss" in my own campaigns was that one evil warlock who drew powers from their ritual circle. They were still vulnerable to the exact same things as usual, and did what you'd expect from an evil spellcaster - cast a ton of offensive spells. However, the players (and PCs) knew that they could reduce them down to cantrips by getting him away from his ritual circle.
 
I have never gone into a Zelda boss fight not knowing in some way shape or form that I needed to do to defeat the boss.
Maybe I didn't have the entire picture, but I always had a semblance of an idea of what I'd need to do.
 
@Yuuki /shrug. There was a whole conversation about starring things a couple weeks ago. @SPavel remembers (maybe). The conclusion I took from it was that I'm not allowed to star things.
 
5:16 PM
That's the kind of thing I like - spicing up the combat encounter, but taking it easy on the core mechanic.
 
Anyone can star whatever they like. (@goodguy5 @Yuuki)
 
@Yuuki Not sure how that could look in D&D. Do you have any examples?
 
A few weeks back a high-rep member (not an elected mod) made reference to the fact that in this room we have a preference for only starring one or two lines in any particular conversation.
[rummages]
 
@SimonH. Before the players encounter the vampire at the end of the haunted mansion, they should find the journal that discusses some weaknesses and strengths of vampires, or find the corpse with bite marks on its neck.
 
@MikeQ They should also encounter undead with similar weaknesses.
 
5:18 PM
@MikeQ That seems like handing them a predetermined answer, though.
 
Mar 20 at 13:44, by BESW
But if we star everything that tickles our fancy, the signal-to-noise ratio quickly drops to where it's not worth paying attention to.
 
And maybe switches that are activated by sunlight.
 
@SimonH. Sometimes that's better - not always, though.
I'll get back to you later on - shower time.
 
In fact, that's a common mechanic in Zelda games. The Mirror Shield is often used to solve puzzles by reflecting light from one source to a switch.
 
@kviiri Have a good one!
 
5:20 PM
@nitsua60 DoppleGreener often makes similar comments.
 
@SimonH. Okay, better example: The players are in a mountain cave to find a hoard of treasure. Don't tell them that a fire dragon awaits them, but instead, leave some burn marks, dragon-slayer arrows, and perhaps some fire-themed challenges.
 
@goodguy5 Definitely not the right conclusion :(
@MikeQ @SimonH. How much information do you give htem on the creatures they're fighting? And why/how?
 
@nitsua60 tl;dr try to star content that you think is interesting and relevant to the room topic and try to avoid starring too many funny things
 
@MikeQ That's a good one, and it's pretty common. Might try that.
 
A star is not a super upvote.
3
 
5:22 PM
@NautArch Usually none. I've mostly been using bosses as surprises.
 
@Yuuki But...just because something is funny doesn't mean it wasn't part of an interesting and relevant conversation that should be starred.
 
So when do we start voting for stars?
 
1. It lets them prepare for the challenge (preparation =/= guaranteed success, but it lets the players feel smart)
2. It communicates "Dealing with XYZ will be important in this dungeon/environment" (in the previous example, dealing with fire damage)
 
@Frezak At the end of the game. Oh wait, that's hockey.
@SimonH. What about regular monsters?
 
@NautArch Most dungeons I've used are small with only a few monsters inside, so each monster is usually strong
 
5:24 PM
@SimonH. That may also be an issue. The action economy of 5e is very unbalanced for 1 monster vs Party. Unless they've got Lair Actions or something else, the odds are heavily in the party's favor.
 
@NautArch I'm always worried that if I throw multiple monsters of their CR at them, they'll lose. There's only three people in the party (regularly, sometimes there's four).
 
A star is type of astronomical object consisting of a luminous spheroid of plasma held together by its own gravity.
(please don't star that)
 
@SimonH. Then experiment. Throw multiple monsters at them. See what happens. Personally, I aim to have 2+ enemies per combat.
 
@kviiri So tempted to star this instead.
Beyond tempted.
 
Don't get me starred
Thanks :3
 
5:29 PM
@MikeQ If they lose, what do I do?
 
@SimonH. Rocks fall, everyone dies.
 
@SimonH. That depends. At my table, if it looks like my players are really struggling, I'll either drop a hint, or recommend that they flee.
 
Also, loss does not always mean death.
 
So basically, while I generally appreciate the idea of players figuring things on their own and finding solutions on their own, there's a few knacks to the thing. For instance, we had this one GM who was really averse to the idea of "DnD as a tabletop videogame", while still running a game that (inadvertently, I'd guess!) very much rewarded playing DnD as a videogame.
 
There's always the "capture the adventurers" route that now naturally leads into the "escape capture" encounter.
 
5:31 PM
^^ Very true. It throws the players in a new type of challenge.
 
@SimonH. Minions!
 
By "videogame", I mean adhering to the relative rigidness of the combat engine in particular. Knowing the numbers, too. He wanted us to do things outside the usual combat actions: swinging from the chandelier and all that.
How it worked in game: I ask the GM whether I can swing from the chandelier, and he'd reply "try it and see". Telling me straight-up would've been videogamey. Sometimes he'd be generous and say "yes", but there wasn't a chance of me actually knowing what swinging from a chandelier would do.
 
@kviiri Is there anything wrong with that, though? It could create play diversity
 
So those few times I actually swung from the chandelier and did other similar stunts, the outcome was unforeseeable, the effects were varying, and overall I was left with using my normal combat powers because those were reliable instead of being improvised on-the-spot. So I stopped doing it.
 
@SimonH. Because if there's no evidence that it's worked before, then there's no indication that it could or should work, so there's no incentive to try it in a high-risk scenario
 
5:34 PM
@kviiri Well that sounds discouraging for actually trying it. Assuming the alternative was boring but effective "I stand and make a Full Attack"
 
@SimonH. If done properly, possibly - but the point is, when the players have only one action per turn, turns out they're really reluctant to waste it on something that only might work.
With attacks, at least you get to roll.
 
I guess I've had problems where my players ask if they can aim for the eyes
I understand the thought process, but wouldn't that be something they'd be trying anyway?
If they blind their enemies every time, it becomes a problem for me (as a DM).
 
Yeah, that's very understandable
 
@SimonH. That's a called shot, which should incur a penalty on the attack roll. So the player can choose to either attack normally, or attempt a risky move for a more rewarding outcome.
 
A DM can always tell the players "It's getting a bit boring for me that you just try and solve all the problems by throwing infinite jars of mayonnaise on everything."
Or, you know, whatever your mayonnaise jar is.
 
5:38 PM
@SimonH. THere are no called shots in 5e.
Blinding is a condition that can only be given by certain abilities/spells, etc.
 
From Apocalypse World I picked up the policy of being generous with the information. That's one of the ways I try to keep my players doing interesting stuff: if they want to do it, I'm going to tell them how it can work out before they try it. If they choose not to, no action lost.
 
@NautArch Should I tell them no, outright?
 
@SimonH. Tell them they can aim for the eyes, but it might not necessarily hit the eyes (or hit at all!). Maybe let it happen on a natural 20. Remember, the assumption is that creatures aren't just standing still in combat, even when it's not their turn.
 
@SimonH. Yes, you should. Normally i'm not a fan of "NO" without a "but", but the system is not built for that.
 
@SimonH. Possibly - I'd recommend you simply discuss with the players and let them know that the 5e combat engine is rather precariously balanced and it's not intended to simulate such effects.
After that, they'll hopefully not only accept but also understand the "no".
 
5:40 PM
Criticals are already handled with extra damage. The only way I could see this potentially working is a called shot massively raising the AC of the target and also no longer critical relevant. But tha'ts total homebrew.
 
That sort of thing, "Can I do X for Y effect?"...
I usually allow it the first time.
"Yea, man. That's cool and it'll work this time, but we'll try to figure out rules for it so it's fair another time"
@Frezak funny. I ran a game where a mayonnaise jar was an integral part of an infiltration plot.
 
@SimonH. The flipside argument is also that if they do those things to enemies...enemies will do them to them as well.
 
@goodguy5 Everyone knows that the Wand of Infinite Jars of Mayonnaise is just as bad as the Deck of Manly Things.
 
And while enemies change, they don't and they'll be impacted much more significantly and repeatedly.
 
@goodguy5 I was thinking of that 5E magic jug that can Manifest Mayo. As soon as you have an item that can generate a resource...
 
5:43 PM
@MikeQ Thanks, I think I'll try that.
@NautArch Oh, yeah. But maybe that would be better for Warhammer? I've heard that it has an injury system
 
@SimonH. On second thought, NautArch raises a good point. 5e already has a system for criticals. Let them (try to) hit the enemy in the eye once, but not twice. 5e doesn't have a mechanic for shooting things in the eye to blind them.
 
@SimonH. There are definitely systems with injury tables - and maybe that's what they really are looking for. But D&D is more like I aim to hit X. And the effects/conditions are all based on what they are using, not HOW they WANT to use it. That doesn't mean there isn't a chance to be clever - it's just being clever within the rule constraints.
 
@SimonH. And also tell them that any rule or mechanism you add goes both ways. If stabbing eyes is easy, the other guys will try it too and then society starts focusing on facemasks and Eye-stabbing-needles and things just go downhill from there, until it's suddenly Darksun.
 
@NautArch Relating to this, it's also important to note that many people think DnD's simplified damage mechanic is super stupid until they run into a system where they're seriously expected to spend several sessions gimped because of an unlucky roll. (because those systems really do exist...)
I was among those people.
 
and there are plenty of called shot homebrew resources online
 
5:48 PM
I sort-of like the model Banner Saga uses where taking damage = dealing less damage (modeling injuries that reduce your battle prowess)
But the system is a lot more simplified since it's not an RPG
And has other pieces that avoid the death spiral effect
 
Our poor jerk of a sheriff got bit by a bunch of jackalopes in Deadlands: Reloaded. -3 wound penalty, stunlocked, slim chance to succeed at even the things he was good at. And by the book, healing that would've taken ages (because there's a negative modifier in Savage Worlds for being in pre-modern technology level).
 
@SPavel That works in Banner Saga because it's a tactical RPG with multiple characters
 
@kviiri That's when you board the guy at the nearest hospital and put up a "for hire" poster at the nearest saloon
@SimonH. As I said, many pieces
 
@SPavel Hah, great minds think alike - after that session I quipped that SW or DL;RL would've been much better games if we had something like 3 PCs per player instead of one.
 
@kviiri Not even 3 PCs, just recognize non-death game overs
 
5:51 PM
@SPavel You could compound that with a sort of "Death Ground" system where wounded characters fight harder with their backs against a wall
 
@SPavel Sure, that's an option too, but I think my suggestion would've worked with less boring-time to handle the mess.
 
@SimonH. You could, but typically the LOL REALIZM guys want penalties
 
As for designing combats, try to have different types of enemies. Common examples of combat design include:
* 1 caster + 2 brutes
* 1 big brute + a bunch of minions
* the "anti-PC" party (warning: this is much more challenging that it seems)
* 1-2 enemies + a whole bunch of traps or secret passages
 
there was a WH40K game where you play a space marine and recover health by killing enemies, so when you are low on health you don't run and hide behind a wall, you charge FOR THE EMPRAH
 
That reminds me of Doom.
 
5:53 PM
@SPavel Oh sure, until they get stabbed to death in their sleep without a second thought
 
I like doing "anti-PC party" one at a time
 
Or at least the new one.
 
Yeah that's one of my pet hates: systems that call themselves "generic" but are actually rather strictly bound to a framework of ideas (usually relating to realism or combat balance) and the only thing "generic" to them is the setting or lack of one.
 
Where you can recover health through brutal melee finishers.
 
So the PCs face a dark mirror version of one of the PCs, plus some thematic minions
Then the next, etc
 
5:54 PM
Like OoT's Water Temple
Dark Link
But that sounds really dangerous too
 
Eh, I trust me
 
Maybe you could introduce a doppelganger plot point
 
@SimonH. Loosely. I like to think of it as an "off-brand" party of NPCs, where each member has similar powers to one of the PCs. If you're familiar with OOTS, think of the Linear Guild. They don't have to be exactly the same.
 
Eg. Savage Worlds is a poor system for playing LotR-esque heroic Medieval fantasy because muh realism dictates the low tech level makes your wounds fester while Sauron conquers Middle Earth.
 
People in towns you've never been to recognize you, stuff like that
I'd be worried that without forewarning, they wouldn't be ready
 
5:56 PM
Or do it the other way. Tell the players that the last 5 sessions, their adventure in Oaktown, was the dopplegangers that have trapped them in this prison before taking all their things and stealing their identities.
 
@SimonH. Bah that's so cliche
 
Now you are naked in prison and will be suspected of being really poor dopplegangers.
 
Better idea: the PCs are the doppelgangers
 
@Frezak Oh, that's a good twist
 
Their originals sue them for copyright infringement, hope you have ranks in Knowledge: Law
 
5:57 PM
I'd just need to sell a party on the concept of hunting down themselves
 
If the Doppleparty has stolen all their things, you'd need to work to get the players to NOT hunt them down. Players LOVE THEIR THINGS
 
It could be like a total war kind of campaign, too, since the enemies would be extremely difficult to beat
 
@SimonH. Don't give them the option not to, have the enemy send assassins and turn the local authorities against the PCs
 
Again, I was just trying to suggest different ways of structuring combats, aside from "One big guy who gets surrounded and stunlocked and then the PCs slowly whittle away his HP". I was not suggesting that the "anti-party" idea would guarantee a fun campaign concept.
 
No, I'm talking about SPavel's idea of making the PCs clones of some other characters they need to hunt down and kill one by one
 
5:59 PM
Nah, because, see, the PCs know exactly how the Doppleparty works, because the Doppleparty is trying to mimic the PCs.
 
@SimonH. The originals have better loot
 
So the PCs just need to set up the perfect plan to beat themselves
 
Also they know about the doppelgangers and want to slay them first
 
@SPavel So it could be a really short, focused campaign on killing a party of characters using total war tactics like arson
 
@SimonH. Since when is arson a total war tactic
 
6:01 PM
@SPavel Might be using the wrong term, hold on
 
Total Arson.
 
@SimonH. I'll just take this little moment to praise you for taking the time to run a game for your friends, noticing there's something to improve there, and actually taking the time to work out how to make the game more fun for the people in your table. I hope whatever ideas we provide will help you with your pursuits!
 
@kviiri Thanks, and I appreciate the help. You guys are smart.
 
Next, replace a player with a doppleganger...
 
@Frezak Replace the DM with a doppleganger
 
6:04 PM
I remember seeing a campaign where there was a dungeon filled with goblins, but the goblins were smart, so they'd trap the players in rooms and use fire to split up the party. It was designed by a war veteran or something, I'm trying to find it right now...
 
Tucker's Kobolds? (or something like that)
 
@Frezak Yeah, I think that's it.
Anyway, I gotta go now. Talk to you chaps later!
 
> goblins
> smart
🤔
 
@Yuuki Whoa, please refrain from using anti-goblinist hate speech
 
@MikeQ Depending on the setting, I think goblins themselves don't like goblins with above-average (for goblins) intelligence.
I know that there's a very strong anti-literacy sentiment in Pathfinder goblins.
 
6:12 PM
@Yuuki Yes, they believe that writing words causes the knowledge to leave your head, thereby making the writer less intelligent
In my games' canon, goblin alchemists "write" formulas in their formula book by smearing bits of the ingredients into the book pages. They can identify the formula by sniffing it.
 
@MikeQ What if the potion uses chloroform?
 
@Yuuki Then if they didn't identify it before, they'll know afterwards when they wake up
"Ah yes, that page. I always forget about that page. Not even sure why I keep it around."
 
@MikeQ In MY game, goblins write the names of their friends and most famous foes on their own skin because the name is the thing and if you keep the chronology of all the important people on your skin (something real and alive) then they don't get forgotten and consigned to a horrid oblivion. Also they get high eating centipedes, so whatever
 
@Frezak Sacrilege!
 
@Yuuki Given that it takes about 5 minutes to knock someone out with chloroform, I don't think it would be an issue.
 
6:18 PM
@kviiri is savage worlds like that?
 
@GreySage Now that's racist, assuming goblin metabolisms are the same as human metabolisms.
Looking at the star list... An orc is not a super hobgoblin.
 
@NautArch Yep!
 
@Yuuki But is a hobgoblin a super goblin?
 
@NautArch Savage Worlds has a rather unintuitive and tricky damage mechanic. I had to explain it over every time anew because I was the only one who bothered to learn the common part, and there's one (not very large, but still...) wound table to look up.
 
@kviiri I had a feeling while looking at the rules and it struck as me as problematic.
 
6:32 PM
The basic SW damage mechanic doesn't have HP. Instead, dealing at least the enemy's Toughness causes the enemy to become Shaken, which is like a Stun. (it used to be really bad, but was later revised to prevent extreme cases of stun lock)
Or if the target was already shaken, they take a wound.
Raises on the roll (=rolling over the opponent's toughness by a factor of 2, 3 etc) also deal wounds.
Up to three, each wound is simply an accumulating -1 to all rolls - including the rolls to heal wounds or recover from being shaken. It's bad.
The unintuitive bit is, when you suffer any amount of wounds that would give you wounds over -3, then you roll on the injury lookup table using the amount of wounds you suffered - not the overflow. That means suffering one wound at first and then three wounds is far worse than suffering three wounds at first and then one.
 
@NautArch great answers all-around today btw
 
6:47 PM
@Rubiksmoose grazie. been some interesting ones! I don't love my Volo's answer but wanted to put something up.
@kviiri Cripes. I'm somewhat not sad that I doubt we'll ever play.
@Rubiksmoose and thanks for the grapple not unarmed strike tweet. BUt it is frustrating to feel that we 'need' his tweets to support answers in the book.
 
7:00 PM
0
Q: Is there any interest for a Discord server?

T. SarI've been thinking about this for a while. What do you guys think about a Discord Server for our Stack? I mean, we do have the chat rooms already, but Discord would enable a few other ways of getting social with each other: We would have video and voice chat, for those interested in it; We can...

 
how do we respond to that? Are "answers" not really answers, but instead "responses"?
 
7:17 PM
@TheOracle Why is that a 'question'?
Seems more like something for chat.
 
7:35 PM
Is the duck an Easter thing or a new feature?
 
user15026
April Fools related thing - should disppear within the next day or so
 
@SimonH. Its on Meta, where ideas run wild and free
 
@MikeQ This ended up being a huge issue that seriously disrupted my first few DMings on Roll20. Players alt-tabbing to other things and not paying attention. Asking a problem player to stop resulted in the table going down in flames.
 
Our rotating DM game last ended with being able to choose up to a Very Rare item. Numbers me says to take the Tome of Leadership to bring my bard's charisma up to 22 (helps with DC setting and my EB attack rolls), but I also kinda want to do something fun. Like the Rod of Security or something else. I'd prefer NOT to have to attune.
The one item I'd have to unattune I'd prefer not to (ring of mind shielding, but the kicker for it as my soul goes into it when I die which my character loves the idea of)
 
@Maximillian I kinda hate Roll20. Because it's not in person, it's hard to get them to remember to show up every week and the party slowly shrinks
 
7:49 PM
*not in person
 
@Maximillian Yep, it's harder to rein in players when you're playing online. Here's a tip: In combat, give players a "heads up" on the turn before theirs.
 
Let's say the turn order is 1. Alice, 2. Bob, 3. Charlie. On Alice's turn, the GM should say "Alice, it's your turn. Bob, you're up next".
 
That only encourages the behavior, though.
 
@SimonH. It's a risk. But at least it will mitigate the effects.
 
7:51 PM
I wonder why that circle of twilight question got downvoted. seems like a fine question
 
If they can tab out and still play, they'll feel more inclined to do so.
@goodguy5 Downvoted? It's at 0 right now.
 
@SimonH. True, but unlike an in-person table setting, the DM of an online game has no control over what the players are doing when they're not taking actions
 
@SimonH. that's because I upvoted it
 
@SimonH. At higher rep you can see the up and down votes, not just total.
Right now it's at +2/-2
 
@GreySage That's lame. My brain doesn't work fast enough to answer questions in time.
I guess the question just wasn't wacky enough :/
 
7:56 PM
quittin time. later nerds
 
Nerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
 
@NautArch Yeah I don't like that idea either. But I also really like the clarity of someone in even plainer English saying "this is what the rules say". But yeah, I think it is an interesting line we are walking.
 
@Rubiksmoose I briefly tried to actively NOT cite JC and it really hurts the votes.
 
@NautArch oh wow. That is a bit upsetting actually.
 
@MikeQ Oh I tried several things. It came to a point where I called a player three times to take their turn and even an IM ping outside Roll20. I simply made their character continue the attack they were doing the previous round, and kept the table moving. When they decided to check five minutes later, they demanded they get a do-over.
I've given up on online and I'm trying to get back into meatspace games.
 
8:01 PM
@Maximillian Okay, that's the player's fault. If they need to go AFK, they should say so. If that's not obvious, then the DM should communicate that as a rule.
 
8:13 PM
@NautArch If it makes you feel better I routinely downvote answers that give tweets priority of position over real rules. And comment as to why.
 
@nitsua60 Heh, a bit :) It's more that rules+JC>Rules.
Sort of a we're all just interpreting, but without JC's statement, it's not necessarily a valid interpretation.
 
8:26 PM
@Rubiksmoose I still think you should add the bit on 60' range for the chains and a discussion on their general mechanics. I think it'll go a long way to understanding how they work and why they don't need/have a speed.
 
@NautArch Can you help me understand how the 60' thing helps me at all? I'm not seeing it atm.
 
What do you do to stop them from breaking the rules, though? What could you do to discourage it?
It's not like you can kick them out, first thing.
 
@Rubiksmoose I saw it as not undertanding how they chains move. The chains do have a 60' range that if charged can be used as an action (independently up to 4 of them)
so they don't hvae a speed, but they can reach anything within 60'.
 
@NautArch This is kinda surreal for me because going into this edition the general attitude being conveyed by the D&D staff was "all the interpretations are valid, make some DM rulings like we did in the old days!" (but lo and behold the rules matter)
 
@NautArch I.... don't think I agree with that interpretation at all. The 60ft range is only listed in respect to animating the chains. I don't see any relationship to the chains' ability to act.
Just like the range for animate objects is 120 feet, but that is only for choosing the spell targets and has no bearing on how or where the objects can move or act.
 
8:33 PM
You don't see the chains reaching anyone within 60?
 
Well, it's probably like how weapons have a range.
It can chain anyone within that range, but it doesn't otherwise say they can move.
 
@NautArch "Animate Chains (Recharges after a Short or Long Rest). Up to four chains the devil can see within 60 feet of it magically sprout razor-­edged barbs and animate under the devil's control, provided that the chains aren't being worn or carried."
That is what I'm reading. Is there another place you are looking at?
@SimonH. I really do not read it that way at all actually.
Maybe I am just being silly?
 
@Rubiksmoose Oh, I misread it. I guess they can't move anyway.
Just like an extra appendage, but they have to be within 60 ft to activate it
And they deal that much damage, specifically
 
Yeah, my bad
That is weird, where do the chains come from?!
I was making the assumption that the chains came from the chain
 
"a chain devil animates the chains that cover its body as well as inanimate chains nearby, which sprout hooks, blades, and spikes to eviscerate enemies.

Chain devils act as sadistic jailers and torturers in the infernal realms, relishing pain and living to inflict it on others. "
 
8:40 PM
Devil
 
Oddly enough, the first sentence contradicts the part of the ability which says the animated chains "aren't being worn or carried"
@NautArch Honestly, this is a very poorly written ability/monster
@SimonH. yeah that is kind of how I see it as well.
@NautArch since they are a torturer, I guess they just have bunches of them lying around. lol
 
@BESW Hey, how's the storm situation there? Has it settled down?
 
As far as I know we didn't really get hit by one
 
I recall BESW's power got knocked out on Sunday
 
Oh our power can go out without a storms help
Believe me that is not a prerequisite
 
8:50 PM
oh XD
 
Yeah, I still don't know what caused that one.
We've got a storm going by, but it's just giving us a little wind and sprinkles.
 
We don't usually get an explanation for them
 
Well, and a high surf advisory.
 
Or if we do it's a lame excuse
Or the generator blew up,.... Twice
XD
 
When I was a kid, it was snakes. They'd always blame snakes.
Some people thought there was just one dead snake they kept on ice and hauled out to show us every time.
 
8:53 PM
> We wanted to use a random markov chain sentence generator to give you an excuse as to why the power is out, but the random markov chain sentence generator is also down. Please stand by whilst we get it back up and running again. By "it" we mean the markov chain sentence generator. We'll get to the power generators as soon as possible, which means after Geoff is finished with the markov chain sentence generator.
 
@BESW no yeah same, they were still doing that when I was a kid too
@BESW heck I wouldn't be surprised
@doppelpurpler oh god don't give them any ideas sheesh
 

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