jack: (Default)
A long time ago, there was a DnD module tomb of horrors, and every so often since there's been some controversy about it.

AIUI, it was the equivalent of playing a computer game on iron-man difficulty, with no saves, only one life, etc. It was designed for experienced players who wanted a really deadly challenge, often at conventions where there might be an audience.

The general features are (a) there's a lot of challenges that involve player decisions, not specific skills, whether the characters are appropriately really really careful about everything they do. (b) when something goes wrong, it's usually very deadly.

That meant, if you expected "fair" to mean "forgiving", it's really really not -- if you're the slightest bit incautious, you'll likely all die immediately. But if you expected "fair" to mean, "your death stem directly from your decisions" then it is more so than most adventures[1].

But if you don't know that, there is a lot of ire between people who loved it, people who think this is "the one true way" of how a session should be, and people who tried it and became incredibly resentful. It's good that the far end of a bell curve exists when that's something some people want to find, even if *most* modules should be somewhere left of it.

I did once play with a GM who played a few sessions of it inbetween campaigns. I liked the idea, although I usually like roleplaying with more story.

[1] There are some flaws where it might not be completely fair, or ambiguous descriptions, etc, but less than most modules at the time iirc.
jack: (Default)
After running a couple of roleplaying sessions with quad & family, I would like to try to run something regularly in addition to whatever I run with them. I'm probably going to aim for once a month depending on interest.

I'm going to start by running a lightly revamped version of the DnD 5e one-shot I ran for quad before.

Pitch

Passengers on a ship, driven far out to sea in a storm and beached for repairs on an abandoned island. 30 years ago it was home to a pirate lord, Erik Twicecursed and his BFF Grignir Hammerhead. While repairs succeed, the captain asks for volunteers to explore the abandoned and reputed-cursed pirate lair.

There may be treasure. There will almost certainly be combat encounters. Hilarious misunderstandings of the skill system and trigger happy party wizards are not guaranteed, but likely.

DnD 5e. For people new to roleplaying I will give you a pregenerated 1st level character sheet but suggest you invent a character who's more interesting to you, and change any specifics accordingly. If you're familiar with the system you're welcome to generate a 1st level character however you like.

Invitation

This Saturday 2pm. It may run into the evening, in which case we'll probably have pizza.

If you're interested, comment here or email me by midnight Fri, and I will send you directions. (North cambridge, but may be lifts available if transport is an issue.)

You don't need to bring anything. If you're excited to do so anyway, things that could be useful: bring 5e books if you have them; read a little about 5e online; think about a character concept, not so much detailed background, as what they like doing and how they might be connected to other characters (member of ships company? bodyguard? relatives?)

Also let me know if you'd be interested in future one-shots or campaigns.

Future

I have a campaign in mind following this session, but think it makes sense to schedule several one-shots and see which people are interested in coming back to.

People were very enthusiastic about my putative vorkosigan campaign, and I would really, really like to run that, but it will not be this weekend, it needs more prep time. But if you're interested and think you could actually make time to come, please let me know. (If it happens I plan a series of connected stand-alone sessions, so I might well be able to run one if I'm in london for the day, even if other sessions take place with people in Cambridge.)
jack: (Default)
Previous session http://cartesiandaemon.livejournal.com/951049.html

I have fictionalised the write-up somewhat, because different things are fun to read than to play, and in case any of you come when I run this scenario again.

Prep

GM: ... and that's why levelling up in 5e is simpler than most previous editions.
GM: In theory.
GM: So, anyway, the captain,
GM: The ship's captain, not army Captain Amelficus, veteran of the elf wars, one semi-successful diplomatic mission, and the adventure of the lightly-crispy fried toad-seals.
GM: Summons you to a meeting of the captain, a few trusted passengers, the first mate, and the heretofore unmentioned second mate, played by Liv.
Second mate: I'm friends with the ships cat.
Second mate: I'm a lot like Bel Thorn, but I use "they" pronouns not "it" pronouns.
GM: She thanks you for help before.
GM: And lobs some simple hooks to draw you into the conversation
GM: And says, in a SHOCKING TWIST, the journals you found hint at the location of POWERFUL MAGICAL ARTIFACTS. On this VERY ISLAND.
Ship's Captain: And, um, I don't want to impose on you further, but since (a) you've already proven your trustworthiness (b) TREASURE (c) you're the PCs, how would you feel about, tracking it down and bringing it back?
GM: I warn you, there may be a a variety of level-appropriate encounters, probably just enough to bring you to level 3.
GM: And take the first mate, because she knows about it. And I don't trust her.
First mate: Blah blah blah I am untrustworthy blah.
GM: Or leave her behind, because I don't trust her. I haven't decided.
GM: First mate: I will leave the room now. Absolutely definitely.
GM: First mate: And not ambiguously leave the room in a fashion which leaves most players uncertain about who is actually present for the next scene.
Ship's Captain: And if you wouldn't mind, maybe just once sleep in the store room where the journals, treasure, etc are stored, just in case first mate tries to abscond with them.
GM: In the actual session, I did quite well remembering which NPC was which, but I'm using titled in this write up for your convenience.
GM: And if you could all just debate this question amongst yourselves for a bit to get invested in the adventure, that would be good too.
Party: OK, sounds good. We bed down.
GM: Whew. OK, thank goodness. When I told you to prepare your character sheets assuming you'd recovered max health, I really hoped we wouldn't get any combats with your hitpoints still where they were um last year.

Read more... )
jack: (Default)
Playstyle mismatch

http://rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/1878/strategies-for-dealing-with-turtle-or-roach-players

Other-player: My 2nd level Wizard casts a fireball, uses it as a rocket to propel themselves at the dragon and make a charge attack.

GM: That's so epic! Forget the dice roll! The charge rips right through the dragon's body, landing your wizard right next to the tied up princess.

Tactician: I take a defensive stance and ready an action to fire my bow.

GM: Ok. Now the dragon attacks you both.

Other Player: I swing my sword to cut a hole in the dragon's claw and then jump through at the last minute!

Tactician: My defensive stance gives me +2.

GM: Other player, you make it! Sorry Tact, your +2 doesn't cut it against the dragon.
This was an example of how, a player who's instinctive or most-enjoyed play style isn't matched by the GM's style, can get bored and lose interest.

But what I found interesting was that it wasn't a matter of one style being right and the other wrong. In this case, it was a tactician feeling neglected because the play only rewarded epic over-the-top-ness. But another game could have the exact reverse, the other player's gambit being met with "if you do that, the fireball just blows up in your face", and lots of detailed situations where mastery of your character's written abilities is rewarded.

The archetypes come from Robin Law's Good Gamemastering Guide (Power-gamer wants success; Butt-kicker wants to kick down the door and cut loose; the Tactician wants to do well on their own merit; the Method Actor, and a couple of others including a casual gamer who plays occasionally or for the first time and has different needs again.) It's interesting to see how those archetypes are similar to and different to other sets of archetypes often discussed.

But that it's definitely possible to have a game encompassing a fair breadth of different styles. But this example shows, sometimes people want things that are so different it's essentially impossible to cram in one without giving up the other (and that's fine if you recognise that).

The archetypal adventuring party

http://www.reddit.com/r/DnD/comments/2p096p/difficulty_multiplier_5e/

Q: An Ogre has over twice the HP of four goblins combined and can kill a 2nd-level character in a single blow. A 4-character party of 2nd-levelers could easily take out 4 goblins in a single round, while a 1-round defeat of an Ogre is highly unlikely. But the encounter multiplier table lists four goblins together as a slightly harder challenge, why?

A: With the ogre, although he's big and tough he's tactically easy: Bigpecs McFighter can beat on him up close while Pewpew Van Fireball blasts him from range.

With the goblins, while Bigpecs is beating one down, the rest come in from behind and play pin-the-kidney-on-the-wizard. Requires some more tactical smarts to deal with the goblins effectively. (And that more attacks can give a greater chance of killing one PC.)

B: Thanks for naming two of my NPC characters! Let's fill out the rest of the party then: Tippytoe O'Stab and Friar Bandaid.
jack: (Default)
Armour Class

Emblematic of 5e reducing the spread between low and high level is something I noticed in the monster manual, armour class is even flatter than other stats, that first level players are generally fighting monsters with AC 12-15, 20 might be possible for something fragile but really hard to hit. But the highest AC in the whole thing is the Tarrasque with AC only 25. Which doesn't mean level 20s are not mythological compared to level 1s, but that they improve in ways other than "bigger numbers", and low-level monsters are relevant for longer.

"Legendary" monsters

I also like what they did with some really tough monsters, like adult dragons. They have two features which make them effective as a large single monster. They have extra actions they take after other people's turns (often a simple attack). That means that combat is more interactive than "ok, you win initiative you marmelise the dragon before it acts" or "ok, the dragon wins initiative, it kills you, you and you" even if there's only one monster.

And also, instead of spell resistance, they have three "legendary points" which let them pass a saving throw they would otherwise have failed. That means, "I mind control the dragon" is never a game-winner, but nor is it completely useless. I don't know why that feels more appropriate than spell resistance, but it does to me -- maybe that it didn't make sense to me that "big and tough" automatically meant "resistance to magic", but "I'm just that epic" fits naturally into "you can't take me out in one hit".

There is still spell resistance in a simpler form (they have a bonus on saving throw) for a few monsters where it's appropriate.

But I also notice, it's one mechanic that stays leaning into a videogame or story-telling mode than a simulationist mode -- there's no in-world understanding of what this is, it just makes things more dramatic, and is explicitly appropriate for large single monsters (I might use the same mechanic for a party of 0th level halflings fighting a troll, but not for a party of gods fighting a swarm of adult dragons).

Stunts in combat

A problem I often had with players first getting into a mechanics-heavy roleplaying system like DnD is when someone does something dramatic like "I jump over the balcony swinging on the chandelier and attack the orc from above". There are no rules for that, really not, and it's easy for the GM to revert to a habit of saying "you can't" or "ok, you roll an attack" or "ok, here's the rules for jumping, no, it doesn't say you get any benefit". You do want to embrace that! (At least in my sort of 50/50 roleplaying, if you're concentrating on miniature wargaming, then maybe not.)

But I read an article that pointed out, if you default to fancy stunts being "make a str/dex check against DC 15, if you do, you get a small bonus to an attack, or another effect like driving them back", then it usually just works -- the dramatic move has a clear advantage, but not such a big one that usual combat is pointless. So it allows a reasonable amount of adlibbing.

It also suggests allowing the target a saving throw. I might just ignore that in the case of one-off stunts, or stunts against minion-enemies, but it says it's a useful balancing feature in any case where the stunt might make a big different ("I want to push the lich off the cliff", "I want to disarm EVERY COMBAT").

The wandering monster table is like the audience members who yell out suggestions on an improv show

http://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/1248/roleplaying-games/re-running-the-megadungeon-part-2-restocking-the-dungeon

The wandering monster table is like the audience members who yell out suggestions on an improv show: Simply yelling out “mime” and “airplane” doesn’t make for a comedy show; it requires the improv actors to create a sketch about a mime pilot making an announcement over the plane’s intercom system for that. Similarly, just having random “giant spiders” attack the PCs because the table says so doesn’t make for an adventure; what you need are giant spiders in a particular place for a particular reason and doing a particular thing.


I definitely used to think "wandering monster, huh, why would you do that?" But now, although I haven't tried it, I can see when it could be a useful approach:

You wouldn't necessarily use this when you know in advance somewhere's important, where you hopefully will plan it in advance.

But consider when you're simulating an area more detailed than you can conceivably plan in advance. OK, you're sneaking into an orc camp. You plan the areas, where most orcs are. But they're also going to be wandering about, getting a snack, leaving to scout, etc. You can't plan every single Orc's hunger level. Probably the best way of giving that effect is to say "about every 5 minutes, some orc wanders SOMEWHERE", and if the players are still sneaking about, roll randomly to discover what the orcs are doing.

And the same if the players are exploring a dungeon larger than 5 rooms; it's big enough the monsters probably do wander about, if you're pretending there's some sort of ecology, and if you assume that, it adds a bit of verisimilitude over just "the monsters wait where they are until you find them". And it can also lead to more interesting exploring -- the PCs are not incentivised to always clear through methodically, but to choose trade-offs "safer to hole up for the night or go deeper while we can?"

And it can lead to awesome moments. Some things are more interesting when they happened by chance, which is why there's a random element in combat. If the giant earthworm blunders across the party when they're half-way through crossing a pit-trap, or an NPC party with the very item the party needed are camped in the first room, and everyone knows the GM decided it, it's just "ah, now the GM is screwing with us". But if it's chance, it can lead to hilarious memories.
jack: (Default)
I have written a couple of one-shot adventures for DnD 5e designed to be easy and enjoyable and complete in up to 4h, and run one of them for ghoti et al which I count as a success and was really fun.

Is anyone else interested in playing, even if they can't commit to a regular campaign? Especially anyone who always wanted to try roleplying, or experienced GMs who may offer me some constructive advice, but everyone else too :)

If people are, I will put up a poll for scheduling.
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Immense thanks to ghoti, cjwatson, and B for helping playtest my 5e one-shot! It definitely needed some polishing, but it went fairly smoothly considering I've never used 5e before and none of them had played DnD before at all.

I might have another write-up with more specifics about what I thought went well and what I think I need to practice on, but I couldn't resist posting a dramatised account of the first half of the adventure. (I hope that's ok?)

Cpt: I'm Captain Amelfica. I'm a trained elf battlemage, veteran of the elf wars. We carried the whole continent then, I don't trust humans or dwarves not to bungle anything, or to just steal it. I'm playing a hardened veteran who's seen it all before, more so than I actually am. (B)
Princess: I'm the swashbuckling princess Miranda, daughter of the Duke. I'm kind-hearted and well meaning but always getting into trouble. (ghoti)
Priest: I'm Miranda's court chaplain, ex-army-chaplain. I think she should stop charging headfirst into caves full of-- come back! (cjwatson)
GM: Your ship is blown off course in a storm, and a threatening spectral visage appeared in the wind, sabotaging the rigging and driving the ship ashore. (Me)
GM: The captains asks for brave volunteers to try to track the spirit and try to drive it off so they can launch the ship again.
GM: Or you're foraging for supplies.
GM: Um, let me check my notes, I can't remember how this bit was meant to go.
GM: If I run this again, I need to make it clearer.
GM: OK, You scramble along the bottom of the cliffs.
GM: Who's going first?
Party: The wizard!
Read more... )
jack: (Default)
I've been browsing the alexandrian blog with various roleplaying reviews and advice. He periodically reposts reviews he made 15 years ago for rpg.net. A couple are funny.

http://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/category/board-games/page/2

A parody game, including cards such as "Wizards of the Coast. The publishers of a hot new card game. Though they have money, they aren't exactly in the same league as TSR. If they survive Magic The Gathering, look out!"

Which was a bit of a lame joke at the time, but after WotC became a fantasy roleplaying juggernaut buying most other related companies, is funny in retrospect.

http://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/36320/reviews/rpgnet-review-settlers-of-catan

Settlers of Catan: "hex-based maps from every wargame you’ve ever seen; combinations of resource cards are basically a mechanic from Risk; maintaining diplomatic relations from Diplomacy; variable board set-up from Chess variants; and trading resources from many variants of Monopoly), but the true aficionado will recognize a whole which is greater than the parts."

It's strange to read a review where Settles of Catan is new and no-one knew if it would be as promising as it seemed yet :)

And from rpg exchange: http://rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/34825/whats-the-inspiration-for-the-owlbear

A question it hadn't occurred to me to ask, why does the rust monster look the way it does? Why the owlbear? Because the designer had a cereal-packet-style bag of mythical plastic monsters from japan that were supposed to be dinosaurs, but took their distinctive appearance for the new monsters :)
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DnD 5e

A while back I bought the 5e DnD ("DnD Next" or "DnD") player's handbook and just now have been reading through it. I actually really like it.

It reminds me of 3.5 but streamlined, with a few of the good aspects of earlier editions and 4e. That's about what I wanted out of DnD!

Many of the combat rules are simplified a bit, but look about equally balanced. Progression is simplified -- feats are more powerful, but optional, you can take them instead of a stat increase. Thus they do more to define your character and less to "here's a feat-tree you have to take".

There's no separate saves, you make a "dex save" or "con save". Your character has a single proficiency bonus which scales with level from +2 to about +5, which is added to everything you character is good at (weapons they're proficient with, skills they're trained with, etc).

They've added some fluff to the front page of the character sheet (personality trait, ideal, bond, flaw) and a suggesting for getting temporary mechanical advantage when your flaw comes into play. I have ideas for those bits up, to focus people further on the bits that actually come up in play (whether they matter mechanically or not).

The classes and races are similar to 3e -- there's the classic races (human, elf, dwarf, halfling) and further races (tiefling, dragonborn, gnome, half-orc) which don't automatically exist in all settings.

Like 4e, all spellcasters have a few infinite use cantrips which function as their standard attack options. I like that all characters have something specific to do in combat. And like 4e, fighter has some abilities beyond "hit it with my axe" to bring into play in combat -- although not many, I think that could be beefed up.

It reverts to generally winging the exact physical layout rather than using a battlemap. Which I like because combat is simpler and faster. Although I admit, it does remove some of the good effects in 4e, that there were many more tactical options for the party to work together, other than "we all hit it repeatedly".

The general power level is flatter between 1st level and 20th level, even more so than 4e. I think this is probably good, since it's almost impossible to balance things at both ends, but it does potentially mean less variation. But it has good effects that a character a few level higher than you" feels like "an adventurer like you, but more experienced" not "a demigod". And that there's less artificial scaling where every PC gets regular stat boosts to increase to-hit and damage-per-second and armour-class -- as does every monster.

It seems like, 1st level is really a tutorial level (although actually, I'd like an EVEN SIMPLER introduction for some newbies) where characters all have stuff they can do, but some of the key class features kick in at second level (eg. rogue has backstab damage at first level, but gets a free disengage/hide action from second which is nearly as class-defining). 4th or 5th feels like a typical point for experienced 3.5e players.

In addition to flattening the power level, the magic-item economy is gone. The classes are designed to be balanced mostly as-is, with a minimum amount of gold and almost no magic items. So you can run a low-magic campaign where the only magic is PC and NPC spellcasters, and add a magic sword for effect when it seems dramatic, not assume that everyone is carting around cartloads of +1 stuff else they're unplayable.

I think it could sensibly by used to run either an old-school "kick in the door and take as much treasure as you can before you die" session or a "mostly about roleplaying with some combat" session which are the sorts I enjoy the most.

4e is probably better for tactical combat -- I like that in theory, but never find it works well for me in practice.

Has anyone actually tried 5e?

FATE core and FATE accelerated

I've also been following a couple of people's suggestions and reading about FATE. IIUC it's based on ideas from FUDGE, based on a very freeform mechanics-light structure. Ideal for "here's a wacky idea about X" or "here's an existing setting (Dresden Files) with clear flavour but vague on specifics, can we adapt that to a game" and producing setting and character sheets with minimal write-up and no need to spend ages trying to balance PC activities.

Basically it sounds really fun if you want an adventure without tactical combat at all (there's still some tactics, but not based primarily on characters specific abilities).

Although some people apparently flounder if they're used to DnD -- there's definitely a "everyone should choose things that are appropriate, not always what would be most effective for the character". (Like Dogs-in-the-Vineyard, it seems it's more fun to pick character traits which come up about half the time -- but some people find it hard to resist arguing that they ALWAYS apply.)

Has anyone actually tried any of the editions of FATE?
jack: (Default)
I wrote up a checklist for a quick-and-dirty way to design an interesting character, something like:

* A code/belief/trait you live by even if it's inconvenient (by choice or inability to resist)
* An aspiration, a dream you want to eventually achieve
* A connection to at least one person in your party
* A connection to at least one person in the world
* Something you've learned how to do well

And then I thought "I shouldn't be applying this to a roleplaying game, I should be applying it to myself" :)
jack: (Default)
Wow, scheduling things is hard. It looks like the most plausible times are:

Coming Monday (Mon 3rd Nov)
Following Wekeend (Sat 8 or Sun 9 Nov)
Following Wed/Thu (12/13 Nov)

People who were interested, are you free any of those days? (In general I'd free most weekday evenings and about half of weekends, but the next two weeks happen to be quite busy for weekdays.)
jack: (Default)
http://www.lamemage.com/microscope/
http://arsludi.lamemage.com/index.php/492/youre-no-white-knight/

I was recently bitten by the roleplaying bug and one of the simplest experiments I wanted to try was playing Microscope. A recent indie game quite well spoken of, way at the "structured improv" end of the scale. The basic concept is collaborative, with each player contributing ideas of any sort, with no fixed PCs but the ability for the players to jump in to a crucial point in the history and choose characters to play for a short scene until a specific question is answered.

It is not a linear narrative, rather describing the history of a whole epoch (typically decades, but possibly weeks or centuries). It is hard to describe this, but I was convinced by play descriptions that the fairly simple rules are well-designed to get interesting ideas from all players without falling into some of the most common failure modes (eg. some people are shy to contribute, everyone feels obliged to submit increasingly silly things, no-one dares to shake-up the status quo).

As best as I can tell, it it likely to appeal to board-gamers and improv-players as much as roleplayers. And is fairly easy to play in a couple of hours including faff.

I'm worried I've fluffed the introduction, see the links at the top for more.

Basically, who else would be interested in trying it? I provisionally planned to invite some people over for food and Microscope, but I could bring it along to a games evening if people were interested.
jack: (Default)
Inspired by a recent roleplaying campaign, I finished writing a Vorkosigan-based one off adventure. But I don't think I'm experienced enough to DM well immediately. Would anyone like to help me playtest?

My philsophy for a Vorkosigan roleplaying game is that it should be based around a mix of existing and fictional Dendarii or Barrayarans in a Dendarii mission in the eternal "present" when Miles is still Admiral of the fleet, but most other events have already happened. It should start with a representative Dendarii mission "I know this isn't exactly your thing, but you're our only people in the area, and something weird's going on, could you investigate XXXX", which then becomes embroiled in new technology and politics as it goes on. Characters should be defined in terms of some skills they all share (eg. basic weapons training) and some unique to them (eg. ability to talk people into going along with insane plans) and some quirks (eg. bones break under any physical violence, pathological compulsion to rescue people from dire situations, etc.) I might write up more details later.
jack: (Default)
A friend said she was going to GM a one-off Dogs in the Vineyard (aka Mormons with Guns) evening sometime in the next couple of weeks. Would anyone else be interested if she had space?
jack: (Default)
Intro

In most mechanics-based roleplaying games, outside of any specific tactical arena (such as combat for a DnD fighter, or talking/trap-finding for a DnD rogue, where abilities tend to be tightly defined and optimised), there's some sort of skill system which mediates acts like "drive fast" or "bluff a bouncer" or "climb a cliff".

In some cases, the skills shouldn't come into play, because the result should obvious, or irrelevant. However, if the GM wants to introduce some forking possibilities, and allow the characters to differentiate themselves mechanically, it comes down to a skill roll in most games.

Read more... )
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Tonight, I went along to a CURS one-off event, an introduction to call of Cthulhu. This is a notorious system -- based on the Lovecraft mythos, where a group of fairly ordinary citizens investigate some creepy happening, find very weird occult shit, and slowly are all killed off or driven mad. Read more... )
jack: (Default)
Suppose Viking raiders have been terrorising your coast. A few Vikings have previously settled here and become accepted. You know one noble in the capital city is a Viking, but this is generally unknown, and you suspect him to have *some* nefarious purposes.

However, you have some dealings with him, partly because he's rich and powerful, and partly to find out more about him, and he hires you to assassinate the leader of a band of Vikings who have settled in the nearby countryside.

However the leader is still a boy, just old enough to go into battle, but young enough you don't feel right about holding him culpable. Killing non-resident Vikings is generally regarded as a good thing, but you don't know if this specific band has been raiding anyone, or just settled there.

Do you:

(a) Find out if they have been raiding, and if so feel no compunction about one more regrettable but necessary death?
(b) Go ahead with the assassination anyway, them being here is problem enough
(c) Talk to the boy, find out if he's as malicious as Vikings in the country generally are, or if he might find allegiance with this country.
(d) Refuse to assassinate a boy whatever the circumstances, and try to expose the secret Viking noble who instigated it?
(e) Refuse to cooperate with the noble in any way, cooperating with an evil enemy is wrong even if the specific cause is valid in itself.

(The metaphor I'm seeking is Viking <=> DnD Dragon. And "leader of band" with "30-ft-long and breathes fire". Dragons are invariably but not in this campaign necessarily evil. Killing enemies is necessary. But this young dragon could be entirely innocent, his enemy, the dragon we became embroiled with, has politicl reasons for targetting him)
jack: (Default)
In DnD, monsters are assigned a challenge rating, and approximate measure of how hard they are for an average party of adventurers to defeat.

The challenge ratings are obviously ordered[1], but the question remains, what scale? There are two obvious candidates.

(a) Linear. A CR10 monster is as difficult to defeat as two CR5 monsters[2]. This has the obvious advantage of being easy to add.

(b) Logarithmic. A CR10 monster is as difficult to defeat as two CR9 monsters. (In actual fact, there's an arbitrary scaling factor, it supposedly equals two CR8 monsters.) This has the advantage that it matches character progression by level, and notionally monster progression by hit dice (related to character level). This means a CR10 monster is appropriate for Level 10 adventurer characters, and might well have 10 hit dice, or at least hit dice proportional to 10.

Go on, guess which method they used. I'll give you a clue, it seems the worst possible.

That's right, they used both. (a) for CR<=1 and (b) for CR>=1. (In actual fact, this makes some sense -- you often would use CR<1 monsters only with each other. But it still seems very arbitrary. Not that I care, but it amused me :))

Footnotes

[1] Is it obvious? Well, in actual fact, you might easily have rock-paper-scissors monsters, but because they're defined in terms of the average party, the challenge ratings *are* transitive. Also anti-symmetric.

Is it a well-order? Well, the monsters listed anywhere, there are only finitely many of them, so yes. And if you consider typical attributes of monsters, eg. health, strength, damage output, these are defined by positive integers, and lower is weaker, so of any such set, there'll always be a weakest.

However, it is conceivable to have a set of unboundedly weak monsters. Let there be a monster, a proto-nth-orc[3]. This has, on encountering adventurers, a 1/n chance of morphing into an orc, and an (n-1)/n chance of disintegrating entirely. This obviously has a challenge rating of approximately 1/n that of an orc -- so the set of all such meta-nth-orcs is ordered, but has no least member.

[2] The "two together" is an approximation, it's incredibly situational, but it's the standard to start working from.

[3] I so want to throw this at some players now :)

Roleplaying

Mar. 8th, 2007 07:24 pm
jack: (Default)
It was pleasant. Everyone seemed to get on well, which was very nice, though possibly slightly crowded with five people trying to sort things out at once :( Character creation was a bit drawn out, but they had some cool ideas, and I hope next sessions will be fun.

I need to work better on making mechanics go past quickly, though I was glad we had this session to give the general idea, and with new characters and two people new to DnD it's difficult to fix.

My favourite moment was when I was introducing the slightly creepy, slightly comical, slightly tragic, slightly frenetic nemesis, and told people the music to imagine was "hall of the mountain king", and half the room broke into humming while I portrayed the insane defiant speech :)

Next week real plot should start; I hope the players will enjoy it :)

Characters:

Biffa (sp?) aka Biffa Goblincleaver, Dwarven Meatshield. Catchphrases, I'm not sure, but I suspect affinity for eviscerating a rushing horde of goblins, and fluffy things.

Cob (sp?) aka Exotic Sneaky Guy, human Exotic Sneaky Guy.

Althea aka, Half-Elf High Bard

Violet, aka Violent, aka Barbarian Rouge, Human-ish Barbarian/Rogue. Catchphrases "If we hollowed it out, we could shelter in the corpse" and "Ooh, fluffy"

Frogdor: insane half-frog druid.

Fyron aka Gandalf catchphrase "As many frogs as you can find, yes. Oh, and if you find any sign of Bob, could you let us know? His family's been worried."

Frogboar: Singularly innefective cleave-fodder aquatic minions.