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DMMike
01-11-2011, 09:43 PM
You know it's one of those days, when the all-consuming hate that consumed your long lost brother is freed, and it strikes you down with horrible magic. But things start looking up when the distant prayers and spirits of all your friends and family bring you back to life, so you can fight this hate incarnate. They give you the power to fly through space, withstand mighty spells, and drive earthly weapons into the flesh of a tangible emotion.

But do the rules cover any of this? Naw. 3rd Edition opens up the possibility of truly epic actions by setting common activities at a DC of 10 or less, and allowing characters to hit DCs of 40 or higher. But what about what the rules don't cover? Have you or your DM allowed broken powers in order to keep you in competition with your enemies?

rabkala
01-12-2011, 07:12 PM
Well, I give all the players in my games action points. I am a bit more free with their use, as you can use them even if you know the result is a failure and in more situations than regular. I also let the players earn Hero points to use in situations where even dice can not be pushed. Insane and death defying acts against all odds require Hero points. When all else fails, I let all characters call out to the gods for divine intervention in dire circumstances. Divine intervention calls can be made by non-worshipers or atheists at a flat 1%. God calls made by Hero's with a god or divine characters who follow ideals (etc) can be made at 1% per two levels. Divine characters with a listed god have a 1% per level chance of success. At the moment a character would die, I allow god calls influenced by action points or hero points (if they have any left).

That lets them get out of a lot of very deadly situations.

tesral
01-13-2011, 11:52 AM
Better idea. DMs, don't make broken opponents or situations.

Utgardloki
01-14-2011, 12:33 AM
Actually, the players don't usually know the NPCs stats, so if I start a conflict and realize that I made the NPC broken, I can cut him down on the fly to something more reasonable. I don't do this just because the PCs are losing; I only do it when I realize that I made a mistake in allowing the situation to occur in the first place, so the first few hits can be written off as "lucky shots".

But this kind of mistake doesn't happen very often.

I am planning to institute a Hero Dice system when I restart the game, and have been considering the kind of divine interventions that they have in Runequest, where you can ask for divine intervention, but it might cost you your life.

I also have a "take 26 rule" where if you roll a 20 or take 20, and you fail, and you know that you fail, you may make one last attempt by rolling D20 and adding a number of d4s equal to your key ability modifier, as one last heroic effort.

I did run a game once where I allowed the dice to "explode" when rolling stats. Every PC had at least one ability above 20, and one PC had a Wisdom of 29, which really came in handy when he needed to make a Sense Motive check to progress to the next plot point.

DMMike
01-14-2011, 12:13 PM
I was going to use the word "broken" with this thread, but broken implies fixing. A super-rule doesn't need fixing, it's more-or-less required for the encounter or situation. Say you're fighting a kraken on its turf (underwater). Should the PCs really be making swim checks, three-dimensional movements, breath-holding counters, and saving throws (tentacle crushing) every round? If you abstract things out a bit, and bend the rules, you could speed up the combat:

-Each character has earned the water-subtype, freeing them from swim checks and underwater breathing, and maybe even underwater combat penalties.
-Each character has Blessing of Blibdoolploop, which allows them to flow with water, requiring the kraken to make specific attacks instead of area-attacks (which might do half-damage at a minimum).

fmitchell
01-15-2011, 11:28 PM
Better idea. DMs, don't make broken opponents or situations.

And we wouldn't have criminals if police would just catch them before they committed crimes.

Most of us make mistakes: an encounter is too deadly, a magic item or spell is too powerful, etc. In those cases, though, the GM has to make mid-course corrections. If the GM keeps such things secret, she can introduce a counterbalance: the dragon flock wants to capture and not kill, the spell has unpleasant side effects that aren't immediately apparent, the magic item runs out of charges or malfunctions catastrophically. Also, if you read fairy tales carefully, the magic whatsit that helps the hero surmount a magic obstacle often works only once, or only in that specific situation.

I'm reminded of Hero Questing in RuneQuest, wherein PCs project themselves into a myth and follow the footsteps of a god or hero. On the Hero Plane a PC could call down lightning or jump to the moon if required in his mythic role. Once the Hero Quest ends, though, the PC may receive a useful spell or blessing but still bleeds and dies if a duck stabs him with a knife. (Yep, in Glorantha a duck will cut a b----.)


A super-rule doesn't need fixing, it's more-or-less required for the encounter or situation.

If that's the sort of campaign a GM wants to run, that's fine. The problem is, I think, that GMs hand out the Mallet of God-Smashing without thinking through what will happen when the party returns to town.

tesral
01-15-2011, 11:54 PM
Most of us make mistakes: an encounter is too deadly, a magic item or spell is too powerful, etc. In those cases, though, the GM has to make mid-course corrections.

Then one endeavors to not make mistakes. And yes, corrects them when we fail. My only quibble is the "Most of us". Yes, we all make mistakes, and I am certainly no exception.



The problem is, I think, that GMs hand out the Mallet of God-Smashing without thinking through what will happen when the party returns to town.

One simple rule. Never give the opponent anything you wouldn't want to see in the hands of the PCs.

Farcaster
01-16-2011, 12:09 AM
Better idea. DMs, don't make broken opponents or situations.


Have you or your DM allowed broken powers in order to keep you in competition with your enemies?

I more or less agree with what I think Tesral is trying to say. The challenges that you throw in front of your players shouldn't require a deus ex machina solution. If they do, either the players took a wrong turn, or the DM did -- one of the two. All too often it is the DM who makes these mistakes by creating wildly inappropriate encounters, either by design or accidentally. This should be avoided.

That said, it can be used in a very purposeful way. For instance, for story reasons, I wanted my group to fight an adult gold dragon in an honor duel, but it was way out of their league. They knew it and were sweating it, but just before the fight, they were given a special "brew" for courage. It was offered to everyone, including the gold dragon, who declined of course, but everyone who drank it received a blanket +5 to attacks and damage. The result was in effect a temporary level bump that made the combat more appropriate.

Basically, it boils down to DM fiat and ad hoc rulings for the situation. Did I find a specific spell/potion/whatever that gave the +5 effect I wanted the group to have? No. Nor did I need there to be a rule that allowed me to do that.

You can, of course, also work within the rules by giving the players some powerful consumable magic items and elixirs. It can make all the difference if your party is running into what would otherwise be an overwhelming fight armed with a bunch of potions of dragonbreath for instance...

ronpyatt
01-16-2011, 09:47 AM
I'm going to have to completely disagree with the nay-sayers on a very fundamental level. Yes, I've played in a game (3.x) with broken powers and opponents. It was actually really fun. DM upped the ante every session. His solution to the over-powered elements was to wing it. It also gave us the opportunity to explore parts of D&D from a different perspective.

The DMG attempts to keep the rules and the GM sane with various caps on what would be appropriate for each level. When one lifts those caps, DM's could simply lift the restrictions on their imagination and go with it. Setting your foot down and stamping out the crime of super encounters it all good and fun for some, but not everyone plays that way.

tesral
01-16-2011, 12:09 PM
That is a matter of play style. If that is the style of play you prefer then it isn't "inappropriate". No blood, no foul. AISI an inappropriate encounter is one out of scale to the expectations of the players. I'm not exactly a rules Pharisee here. So if over the top is what you like, over-over the top would be too much. there is no absolute scale here.

DMMike
01-17-2011, 05:52 PM
Not that I've tried it yet - but a super-rule would help when:

Your party has just destroyed the storm giant lord on his flying citadel. Problem is, his magic that was holding the citadel together has died with him. The island is crumbling, and falling toward the earth at a predictable rate. The giant's behemoth-pet has four gems-of-flying in its collar, but you'll probably want to kill it before trying to get those gems.

Do you draw out a map and let players jump easily between the falling boulders, to attack the falling behemoth? Or do you require jump/fly checks, climb checks, since the players have reasonable chances to succeed on these rolls?

Generous, by the way Farcaster, to offer the courage brew. I'd have let my PCs get smashed, since you generally should avoid fights with gold dragons, or tossed them some Deus Ex Machina.

tesral
01-17-2011, 06:21 PM
EOR 107: Even though I don't really care because I plan on living forever, I will hire engineers who are able to build me a fortress sturdy enough that, if I am slain, it won't tumble to the ground for no good structural reason.

rabkala
01-28-2011, 11:06 PM
If you want the players to feel they are in a real and open world, they need free reign. You can't suddenly decide the King is a level 4 diplomat, just so he fits in their appropriate challenge rating when they decide to attack him for no reason. You can't suddenly dull every sword or weaken every opponent to make all encounters always 'winnable'. When character death is no longer a possibility, every situation is just another full frontal assault scenario. Why use diplomacy, when you can run amok killing every NPC and just speak with the dead afterwords. The world is there and the players interact with it. If it is there just for this group of __ level characters, that is broken DMing.

What happens if a character wants Epic? Do you tell Gandof he can not make a 'final' stand on that bridge and tell the hobits they can't run off? Why not put mechanics into play so they can recover from a stupid decision or so they can pull off remarkable feats beyond the rulebook? It puts the game in the players lap, not a DM wimp out/fluffy story decision.

There are no inappropriate encounters in a real wide world. No broken opponents or situations, only ignorant adventurers and narrow minded DM's.

DMMike
01-30-2011, 11:41 AM
The super rules I'm wondering about are actually outside the mechanics. A super rule is what happens when The DM Says So. Accordingly, they will likely get used when the PCs are doing super things.

So if the PCs want epic, give it to them. The DM-wand can do almost anything. But the catch - a super rule is like a lie. Use one, and if you continue lying, you'll need more to cover it up. If the PCs want to get super-epic, i.e. breaking the rules, let them do it. But only for a session or two.

Utgardloki
01-30-2011, 03:20 PM
I was going to use the word "broken" with this thread, but broken implies fixing. A super-rule doesn't need fixing, it's more-or-less required for the encounter or situation. Say you're fighting a kraken on its turf (underwater). Should the PCs really be making swim checks, three-dimensional movements, breath-holding counters, and saving throws (tentacle crushing) every round? If you abstract things out a bit, and bend the rules, you could speed up the combat:

-Each character has earned the water-subtype, freeing them from swim checks and underwater breathing, and maybe even underwater combat penalties.
-Each character has Blessing of Blibdoolploop, which allows them to flow with water, requiring the kraken to make specific attacks instead of area-attacks (which might do half-damage at a minimum).

My reply is "Yes!" That's what makes the underwater encounter challenging. If PCs were just automatically granted water-breathing and freedom of movement and freed from three-dimensional considerations, we might as well set this encounter up on dried land.

I suppose it is possible that in a special situation, the PCs might get special consideration from a water goddess who grants them all water-breathing so they can fight this monster. This is something that would have to be built into the story. Perhaps they can find a shrine to this goddess and, if they clean it out, the goddess gives them the water-breathing abilities they need to fight the monster underwater.

---------- Post added at 03:20 PM ---------- Previous post was at 03:13 PM ----------


If you want the players to feel they are in a real and open world, they need free reign. You can't suddenly decide the King is a level 4 diplomat, just so he fits in their appropriate challenge rating when they decide to attack him for no reason. You can't suddenly dull every sword or weaken every opponent to make all encounters always 'winnable'. When character death is no longer a possibility, every situation is just another full frontal assault scenario. Why use diplomacy, when you can run amok killing every NPC and just speak with the dead afterwords. The world is there and the players interact with it. If it is there just for this group of __ level characters, that is broken DMing.

What happens if a character wants Epic? Do you tell Gandof he can not make a 'final' stand on that bridge and tell the hobits they can't run off? Why not put mechanics into play so they can recover from a stupid decision or so they can pull off remarkable feats beyond the rulebook? It puts the game in the players lap, not a DM wimp out/fluffy story decision.

There are no inappropriate encounters in a real wide world. No broken opponents or situations, only ignorant adventurers and narrow minded DM's.

Well, if I've decided that the king is an 11th level Paladin, and the 4th level PCs decide to attack him for no reason, this would probably result in a Total Party Kill. I have a kind of existential style where things are as they are, and if it makes sense for the king to be an 11th level Paladin, that's how it is.

I'm not really sure what this thread is about. In any RPG you'll have "super" powers -- the question is how super. I've thought about running a game where PCs have "super" magic items, and then the monsters and NPCs have similar enhancements.

tesral
01-30-2011, 09:46 PM
Not to mention attacking the King is going to get out on the wrong side of the Palace guard.

Some encounters should not be something you can fight your way out of. You should not fight at all. Doing so should have TPK consequences.

I litter my scenarios with no win situations. I will leave a party a way out, I will not help them win. I'm not too subtle when you are hitting a situation were not fighting or even running away is a good idea.

The party defused one situation by holding the board for the creepy undead guy trying to build a shelf. Uberpowerful, but not automatically hostile Lich.

rabkala
02-04-2011, 09:37 PM
Okay, I have completely fallen on the side of Tesral. You do not want rules or the mechanics that drive them, but random GM fiat. Maybe I am just confused, but the whole thread seems like a Kobayashi Maru scenario.

tesral
02-04-2011, 11:43 PM
I think it has wandered way off the OP question, "do you allow broken powers to combat broken opponents"

Summary: I don't pit the PCs against things they don't have a chance against. This is not to say it will be easy.

This said just because the PCs run into it doesn't mean it can be fought. Encounters deliberately made this way will have an excape route.

I don't build a world around the idea of PC encounters. Things will be found that would be a pushover, and things will be found that would be foolish to fight. Lesson, conflict is not a good first response