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Showing posts from November, 2015

Interesting Encounters: The Battle for Skullport

Interesting encounters are short descriptions of encounters that GMs can use to build on.  They combine unique aspects of different types of foes, terrain, skill checks, weather, combat, etc in order to provide more unique challenges than hit monster; repeat.

It is sometimes very challenging to get lower level characters engaged in a way that feels epic. This interesting encounter is putting some moderately leveled (5E level 7-ish) characters in the middle of a huge battle. This battle is designed to make the PCs actions determine the outcome of the battle. It is also designed to feel epic and balanced.

This particular battle takes place in Skullport in the Forgotten Realms, however, by replacing the foes with equivalents, it could really be a battle in almost any setting. Skullport is a city of ill repute that bridges the surface worlds and the Underdark in the realms. Unfortunately, in this scenario, it has been assaulted by an army of warforged and the PCs needs to help take it bac…

The Dread Naught Campaign Summary

This is a brief summary of the 11 month campaign that I GMed and recently ended. I have left out the bulk of details about the party, which changed several times over the 11 months, but rather captured the framework of the plot used. I thought other GMs might find this inspiring. As with most of my campaigns, this one focused on epic deeds, not just humdrum bandit-bashing. There are, of course, added to this framework, a number of character specific plot lines which are mostly not discussed here. If you reuse any of this, definitely considering customizing it for the motivations of your party.

For reference this campaign took about 33 sessions. Each session took about an average of 3 hours, meaning that the campaign was about 100 hours of play. The party started at level 1 and fought the last battle at level 12. It was played using D&D 5E.

The Dread Naught Campaign continued a previous year and a half campaign that I ran in Pathfinder in the Forgotten Realms. Though the lore contin…

Interesting Encounter: The Grande Hotel

Interesting encounters are short descriptions of encounters that GMs can use to build on.  They combine unique aspects of different types of foes, terrain, skill checks, weather, combat, etc in order to provide more unique challenges than hit monster; repeat.

The Grande Hotel is a social encounter. I originally wrote this encounter as a balancing bit of luck for a min-maxed overly-charismatic bard. It certainly highlights the dangers of being too reliant on only a single aspect in a single character. It is also a lesson in not splitting the party.

The Grande Hotel is the first big chance for the new big damn heroes to flaunt their wealth and get some rest. From the moment the party walks into the hotel, they get a flood of elegance. A doorman opens the door for them and offers to take their *ahem* luggage. If they agree, a bellboy will appear with a cart and take any items, weapons, etc and load them on.

At the front desk, a very polite man will offer to get them a room or suite, sepa…

Interesting Encounter: The Goblin Luge

Interesting encounters are short descriptions of encounters that GMs can use to build on.  They combine unique aspects of different types of foes, terrain, skill checks, weather, combat, etc in order to provide more unique challenges than hit monster; repeat.

This encounter is all about excitement and speed with a lot of humor thrown in. The encounter takes place on a sleepy little snow-covered mountainside in a village. The party can start out either inside or outside.  After an overnight ice storm, the party will be startled by screaming and strange noises.

A group of goblins has gathered up the mountain from the village. They have recently discovered that if they load 4 or more of them onto metal shields they recently recovered from a nearby battle, they can attain a lot of speed going down the hill. They get the wonderfully evil idea of using this new found method of transportation to make a raid on the village.

The raid starts with the first few groups sliding through the village…

The Danger of Stereotyping Players

We probably have all heard the stereotypes: the munchkin, the min-maxer, the power gamer. There are entire sections in gaming books written on different types of gamers and how to deal with them. Today, I'm covering why this kind of classification of players is dangerous for being a good GM.

Using stereotypes to identify players is a terrible way to relate to your gaming group. Once you believe you can adequately boil down the needs, wants, and behaviors of a player to a single name, you have lost sight of all of the details that differentiate that player from everyone else. You start thinking that those stereotypes are the important part of what defines a player. You start designing a game around those stereotypes. People are rarely so fundamentally cookie-cutter. Stereotypes gloss over the details that you need to pay attention to in order to be responsive to your players.

So how do you deal with a power gamer or a min-maxer, if you don't want power gaming or min-maxing in y…