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Wulfenstien
12-12-2008, 09:20 PM
I am an excellent 3.5 dm. My players thoroughly enjoy my games, and we have many memorable campaigns. My style however is proving at least to me next to impossible to recreate in 4.0, the only place I have had any success Is recreating my rather unique take on dungeon crawls. My biggest dungeon is at most 4 levels deep, but they are usually just 1-2 levels.

Here's my dm style so that I wont have to bring this up later in the thread. I usually have a dark gritty enviroment with a few horror aspects to it, a very medivel feel and magic is rare, in essence sort of a dark gritty low fantasy. My parties are never bigger than 6 and never smaller than 3. And (this is what im most complimented for) my pacing in it is nigh perfect at a solid 50% rp 50% combat. My combat style goes as this, many little trapy rp'esq battles that seem at first for the most part nonthreating but could very easily end in a players death.

Example: My pc's were in the local tavern and the elf fighter with a hero complex descides that he wants to go knock off this Half-orc whos an obvios high up in the local theivs guild. This pc has been itching to kill this guy for 2 sessions. This very half orc was drinking with some pals in the same tavern but later in the night Descides to leave and our hero follows him into a dark alley (smart! right? follow the rouge into the dark alley) wherein hes confronted face to face, after some banter and much bravodo elfy attacks the half orc and is much suprised to find out that mr.half orc is a cross class rouge barbarian weilding a shimerstrike (long story short lets you sneak attack against one foe indefinatley) Bastard sword... Whoo boy that fight ended quik and fourtunatley for the elf his compadray's heard the scuffle over the relativly quite din of tavern goers talk and came rushing around the corner to find the half-orc preparing to cou-de-gra our elf. And with a little good cop (the LG dwarf cleric) and bad cop (NE Human Bard... dont laugh she was the scarriest freaking pc i have ever had the pleasure of dming) they managed to talk the orc down thus saving elfy, who is shortly rushed to the local monastary (cleric was out of healing spells for the day. plus he didnt like elfy anyway.) :rolleyes:

So you have those wich were quite numerous in my game and all did not end in that fasion and my pc's have made quite alot of loot depending on the morals of the party. Then I have about 1-4 almighty sonuva *****ing battles and depending on the length of the session they can last up to 3 hours.

Example: (and ill use those same charachters to) One of the big baddies in the game is a level 20 plus druid who has gone absoulutely ape shit and believes that not only is he the lord of fire but the lord of the wrath aspect of nature and when intised to do so will go on a killing rampage. But most of the time he just wanders around the woods argueing with toadstools and grass. Well one of the pc's indulged his latent sociopathic nature inadvertantly, wich causes the druid to set the village the pc's are staying at on fire and sets a great pack of wolves and dire wolves upon the inhabitants of the town. So the pc's are roused from bed to the smell of smoke and the sound of growls and screams, they don gear and hurry down to the street just in time to see one of the town gaurds get his bit off by a snarling dire wolf. Thus ensues a massive battle with fire, both hostile, Freindly and Panicked NPC's running all over the place and Monstorus wolves intent on devouring everything in there path! sounds fun huh? well it was! that battle lasted 2 and a half hours to slay and drive off every wolf and to put out the flames and stop the looters and calm the panicked civilians. This was all done with the help of some of the freindly pc's of course but still alot of strain was put on the pc's. Anyway they were raving about this one for a week :cool:

Just a note: At one point that bard grabbed a fleeing villager and shoved it at a pack of advancing wolves giving her enough time to cast. The villager died of course. You did not mess with that bard.

Anyway the last thing my combat does that seperates it from most is my aforementioned dungeons. Unlike most wich is encounter-rest-encounter till you get to the boss, all my dungeons have an overlaying theme usually with some sort of everpresent threaght.

Example: The clockwerk tower, a 4 story high wizards tower or mansion more accuratley described, that was always changing position and rooms.
And was prestinley manicured furnished and well kept. The place was booby trapped to all hell and the only monsters were the odd animated object here and there, and the only living breathing enemy was the Abjurer at the end, who politley gave up. But the thing is the pc's never found a "quite safe enough" area to take a break.

Example 2: Moaurdhill, the pc's are commisioned by the locals to go find and kill a dirgesinger (libris mortis Prestige class), When they arive at the massive buriel ground they find it empty save for a lone halfling wandering about with a black hat and a lute made of bones, they try to catch up and kill him never quite making it, he leads them into a church and down into some catacombs (during all this a small pack of gouls is following them, waiting for the opportune moment.) wich turn out to be quite laberynthine. Eventuly they corner him and found out hes just a major image. and thats when the ghouls strike. After that huanting music begins to eco through labrynth and the dead start poping up everywhere, now the pc's are more on just a search and destroy mission there in a fight for survival.

As for RP, Its a fairly sandbox style system with lots of different factions you can join and see to supremacy. Or you can make your own. But all my games have alot of complex polotics in them so theres no shortage of missions and Rp oportunities. And if you really want I usually go sofar as to (if the players wish) make stuff for just aimless wandering. Sandbox is usually the hardest to make but ultimatley a time saver and the most rewarding.

Anyway that is my DM style and it works brilliantly with 3.5, but 3.5 as we all know isnt perfect and Ive had to make a gagle of house rules to "fix" some of the bugs. For instance one of my house rules is that if you have an inquery about a rule or an argument you have 1 minute to look it up to prove me wrong. If you cant fit the time frame than you will have to wait till break. another one is you cant be a race with a level adjustment above +2 (god the amount of idiots i had to deal with that whined endlessly about wanting to be an illithid rakshasa or celestial.) and I even had to go so far as to outlaw certain weapons (Fullblade being the most prominent.)

All in all My system has been 4+ years in the making and Im having the devil of a time re-addapting my play style to 4.0. Ive dm'ed about 12 sessions and played in half as many, and the attitude and response has been unserious, and unenthused. And as a player ive had maybe one battle that I took seriously.

Here is what Im having difficulty with.
-Difficulty of encounters: Every single thing I through at them is Either to easy or un-winnable. what do I through at them and when? a good deal of the danger of death that made my 3.5 games so exciting is gone with those healing surges.
-Atmosphere: I honestly do my best to recreate the dark n gritty world of my beloved greyhawk sandbox adventures. The darkest I seem to be able to get is Mid-fantasy, anything darker just turns comical. Kinda like the undead in wow, its kiddy scary.
-Pacing of the charachters: PC's level alot faster due to the 10 extra levels so that just adds to the difficulty of pacing the encounters.
-Loot: Now that the pc's have breezed through yet another easy as pie battle what the hell am I supposed to give em for there trouble? I know I want to give them nothing, because it seems thats all they did.
-WORK!WORK!WORK!: It seems I have to do 4 times the work for 4 times less return! With 3.5 All I have to do is come up with an Idea and mold pre-existing concepts and Idea's into my own. Ideas wich have there own mechanics for implementation. I can spend 2 afternoons and have enough content for a month! with 4.0 its seems I have to spend hours and hours just working out enough stuff for a single session. And my players ignore 80% of the stuff Ive built for em. Its frustraiting enough to the point were I stopped my 4.0 games entirley.

SO heres the jist. 4.0 dm's of the world what are your styles and house rules for you games :confused: because I seem to be epic failing. And dont just arrogantly through "read the dmg noob!" because I have and ive found it moderatley usefull at best. Remeber Im talking about unique styles of play not the lame ass cookie cutter bullshit the core dmg recomends.

So spill it guys whats your secret? whats your style house rules ect?

Kazinsky
12-13-2008, 07:34 PM
Heya Wulfenstien.

Here are some of my thoughts:


Here is what Im having difficulty with.
-Difficulty of encounters: Every single thing I through at them is Either to easy or un-winnable. what do I through at them and when? a good deal of the danger of death that made my 3.5 games so exciting is gone with those healing surges.

I found that there's a definite learning curve to 4E's encounter system. They tend to be much easier to setup (with monster roles and levels instead of old CR). But you need to understand that the day's activities tend to be longer than in 3.x. Just build that into account when you're looking at the difficulty of the session's events.

Traps and environmental hazards are much more useful in 4E. Falling is dangerous to PCs and it hurts! Flying enemies are stronger now, since flight has largely been taken away from the players. Combining those three with combat encounters is easy and fun. But most of all, it provides a level of difficultly that you can use to increase the threat to the PCs.


-Atmosphere: I honestly do my best to recreate the dark n gritty world of my beloved greyhawk sandbox adventures. The darkest I seem to be able to get is Mid-fantasy, anything darker just turns comical. Kinda like the undead in wow, its kiddy scary.

You gave some great examples of your 3.x games, but nothing about how your 4E games are failing to capture the same atmosphere. Dark and gritty can be attained in 4E (though it is a little harder, since PCs bounce back from hurt faster). Tell us why and how your 4E games are not hitting the right atmosphere. Why are they turning comical?


-Pacing of the charachters: PC's level alot faster due to the 10 extra levels so that just adds to the difficulty of pacing the encounters.

Pacing is 100% under your control. Slow it down or speed it up with how you hand out XP. If you run a lot of encounters, you may want to give out 75% XP.


-Loot: Now that the pc's have breezed through yet another easy as pie battle what the hell am I supposed to give em for there trouble? I know I want to give them nothing, because it seems thats all they did.

I know that you didn't want to hear the "read the DMG" kind of reply, but this is pretty well-laid out in the DMG, under treasure parcels. Re-read that section. If you feel that the encounters are too easy, then remember that you can really challenge the PCs with Level+2 to Level+4 encounter groups.


-WORK!WORK!WORK!: It seems I have to do 4 times the work for 4 times less return! With 3.5 All I have to do is come up with an Idea and mold pre-existing concepts and Idea's into my own. Ideas wich have there own mechanics for implementation. I can spend 2 afternoons and have enough content for a month! with 4.0 its seems I have to spend hours and hours just working out enough stuff for a single session. And my players ignore 80% of the stuff Ive built for em. Its frustraiting enough to the point were I stopped my 4.0 games entirley.

I guess I need to know what you're spending your time on, since this is directly opposite to my own experiences. It took my 3-4 times as long to generate the same amount of material than in 4E. 4E's encounter system, monster roles, monster levels, simplified custom monster and character generation systems all lend themselves to easy preparation.

Give us some examples as to what you are spending your time on.

Wulfenstien
12-14-2008, 02:55 AM
well you gave some good perspective there and I will take it to heart, but to answer your questions.

-Time consumption: I spend the majority of my time building maps, citys, Lore is a big one, and afor mentioned internal progression, and most importantly the battles. My style as before mentioned prefers a couple of massive battles with a few very minor skirmishes that can be resolved without even drawing weapons if the pc's are good enough at diplomicy. And I spend alot of time working on specific main npc's. Now where I find myself spending more amount of time in 4th E. Lore, my games a very sandbox mentality, in the last edition there were pages of lore for almost all stuff so much in fact that I could cherry pick what I wanted and add flavorfull twist, but in 4e I find myself having to make EVERYTHING. Now im a pretty creative guy like assume all of us DnD players are, But im not a proffesional Wotc dnd writer, and it seems the amount of lore you have to personally generate to attain the same sandbox effect seems like a fulltime job. The other place I seem to have to spend alot more time on is encounter planning, I found it much more time consuming (and at least for me alot less rewarding) to plan several small sequencial battles than One almighty clusterf**k of one. The very nature of the sytem dictates it to be so. Lets compare this to the food world, a good dnd encounter much like a good Burger or other meat dish is more of a work of art than a peice of fantasy adventuring. With the 3.5 system I felt I had the luxery of spending all my time on one or two encounters much like how a gourme' shef only cooks a few meals a day, and the product of my labours was usually a robust flavorfull encounter with just a hint of himilayan salt.On the other hand I felt like a fast food worker with 4th e were quantity was prevelant over quality and the result were lots of small tastles encounters that were full of trans-fats. and note a gourme shef only works a few afternoon a week maybe, especially if hes really fancy, were as a fast food slave is an all day every day gig. See where im coming from?

Atmosphere- Difficult to acheive low fantasy with that extra dash of grit? Next to impossible I say! Well let me describe what led me to believe this. My last attempt at some propper grit was this, A cult of orcus is secretly operating the nations capitol of sun city, and is hard at work spreading this magically inclined plauge (also have a ton of other juicy bits to this story but i dont aims to write a novels worth of words wich is the amount of lore i bassically had to churn out on an interwebs blog.) The game starts with the anual winter festival (basically a medevil october-fest mixed with marty gra) is currently taking place nation wide but sun city is basically were its at. And thats where we find our hero's getting smashed and such and eventually work there way to the city slum district were the hotels are the cheapest and Bed down for the night. Well the cult of orcus takes advantage of the nationwide beligerence to infect a certain depraved villian in the local prison.The prisoner infects a watchmen and the watchmen in turn infects other watchmen ect ect ect. If youve ever seen teh movie doomsday thats what the disease is basically like and I have even wrote up rules for how the desease works and a template for those infected. Its contact transferable and acts basically like lepresy combined with cancer combined with rabies and is 100% comunicable and 100% fatal, and progresses based on the Subjects constitution score. Needles to say anyone whos infected becomes extremly agressive thus propegating the desease. Anyway this is all going on unbeknownst to the pc's and local authorities and is only recognized for what it is after the veritable shit hits the fan the day after celebrations have ceased (another propegator, nothin says plauge like a bunch of tightly packed inebreated humaniods) anyway The pc's wake up to utter bedlam and a massive hangover. Boddies are burning in the streets of shanty's and run down homes as "plauglings" are on the prowl and the uninfected have used the walls of the city to institute a state of quarintine. All civilization with in the zone has gone and I basically painted a picture of world through hell colored glasses. The trouble started however after the first pathetic battle. The pc's went up against the first group of plauglings all cautios as they would have one of my 3.5 encounters, but after not even being scratched and dispatching them with barley more than a fart they then treated this creatures (varying from +1-5 encounter level) with little more than humourus contempt. Remeber folks fear breads respect, and when my monsters (capable of comunicating the desease) are treated as no more than annoying sticks of hp to be chopped in half, turns my urban hellscape into little more than an amusment park haunted house. This was only compounded by the fact the few scratches the party did enjoy simply went away after a each encounter (there were 13 of them culminating in sort of a boss battle with the first infected.) The pc's had no fear of death (and rightly so, freakin HS's) thus they had no fear of the enviroment wich just made the gritty atmosphere kinda of redundent, like a smily happy face jackolantern. yes it could be scary, maybe, but its just not.:(

Note: I did manage to infect ONE of the pc's, but I was so frustrated at the ease of wich they breezed through the rest of my content I just stopped the game after that session. (and Yes I did Have level 5 solo brute infected fighting 4 lvl 1 pc's, pc's stomped it and was one of the few battles they had to use healing surge for.)

-Lewt: How I did it in 3.5 is a signifigance based system. Your not going to pull a +3 sword out of an owl bears guts (nor get any freaking gold for that matter). The only way you got crazy gear was either as quest rewards, treasure finding, or off NPC's of signifigance, all my lewt was predetermined.. Needless to say the gear gaps were pretty big and some of my pc's did not get somethin new and fancy till level 8 or so. In 4e It seems to keep a proper power balance you have to give everyone a new peice of gear every level.

frank634
12-15-2008, 09:32 AM
I have to partially agree with Wulf. I have written a long campaign for 3.5 and its conversion to 4e is proving difficult. The bigest area of concern is the Heros are truely heros even at level 1. They have unique powers and this changes a lot of the story.

However, I have embraced 4e and truely love the way the characters of the story are heros. So I am rewriting.

I can say, I had problems converting from 2 to 3 when that system came out, all be it not as many problems but still had problems.

As far as combat, when we first started, 4e combat was definately longer, however, my players and I have got it going well and I feel, combat has taken LESS time in 4 then in 3.5.

Combat led to another problem in 4e from 3.5. Combat are usually with groups of monsters, so the aspect of the "SOLO" monster does not truely exist. I know 4e has solo brute, but if they are alone or don't have minions, they have to be a fairly high level to be a concern to the heros.

Overall, as a writer of campaigns, a player, and a DM, I love 4e. I stopped trying to rewrite my old campaigns as doing so causes too many headaches. Instead, I decided to write sequals to them. (ex: 100 years have past...)

Kalanth
12-15-2008, 10:26 AM
-Lewt: How I did it in 3.5 is a signifigance based system. Your not going to pull a +3 sword out of an owl bears guts (nor get any freaking gold for that matter). The only way you got crazy gear was either as quest rewards, treasure finding, or off NPC's of signifigance, all my lewt was predetermined.. Needless to say the gear gaps were pretty big and some of my pc's did not get somethin new and fancy till level 8 or so. In 4e It seems to keep a proper power balance you have to give everyone a new peice of gear every level.


The parcel system is rather nice and does help in the distribution of the equipment. The system is designed with a party of 5 players in mind. 4 out of 5 players should recieve something new each level. If you are looking to reduce this distribution then I might suggest you make some play test characters for the various levels and experiment with how they handle combat with reduced magical item availability. I am sure a reasonable balance can be reached. I am not sure that the items play as critical a spot as in prior editions what with the removal of DR and such. No longer do they require that Adamantine Blade to ensure damage against Monster X, for example. Couple this with the fact that bonuses to hit increase every half level to a final +15 bonus. With my party being level 7 right now there is one player that does not have a magic weapon and they are staying right on par with the rest of the group in terms of to hit and damage.

I would never expect a +3 sword from the belly of an Owl Bear (unless you were just being a goof at the time). Might I suggest you add them into quest rewards? Say that the guy that hired them gives it out instead of finding it during the adventure. Or make it part of a skill challenge. I did this with a ghost guarding a tomb. The skill challenge began and they weaved a creative story and convinced the ghost to release the treasure to the PC's (failure would have ment they fight the ghost).

Inquisitor Tremayne
12-15-2008, 10:48 AM
My Dming style tends to be simply to present the PCs with a situation and let them work it out while describing the NPCs reactions to their actions.

Because of this I have very little use for skill challenges. For example, in a meeting with major leaders of the town of Fallcrest the dwarven fighter PC kinda lost his temper and let these nobles have it and told them in so many words to get their sh*t together. I suddenly felt compelled to make this into a skill challenge or have the dwarf roll a diplomacy or insight or something check, but it was such a good speech that it wasn't needed. Forcing this sort of interaction doesn't seem right to me.

I also like to RP that the PCs are just a cut above the rest of common people. They are heroes but not super heroes and if they do stupid crap they can get themselves killed. While there has definitely been some close fights with the PCs going up and down and all over the place with their hit points, it still feels super-heroic in the number of encounters and/or the number of enemies (minions seem to be a nuisance at best) that the PCs are breezing through.

However, I am going to start taking a different approach to the way I run my 4e games. I think the primary issue for me is dungeon crawls, we have had about 3 significant battles throughout a 3 level dungeon and those have been much more dynamic and fun than the first adventure we ran where it was balanced encounter after balanced encounter. I am thinking significant fights are the way to go, have fewer encounters but more grandiose encounters are the way to go AND to make those encounters 2-4 levels over the PCs EL.

For one thing I think this will bring 4e games, or at least mine, into a much more realistic realm where the PCs are having story-appropriate encounters and not just a number of encounters to fill a quota. I say this because there is a definite feeling in 4e that you HAVE to have 8-10 encounters per level and that you HAVE to give treasure parcels for each encounter. I worry about deviating from this because 4e seems so overly balanced that if the PCs aren't at X level and have X number of magic items or do not have all the appropriate roles filled that there is or will be a noticeable difference in encounter balance.

This really didn't seem to be too much of a concern in 3.5 or at least it seemed much more manageable.

Maybe it is just simply getting used to 4e...:confused:

Kazinsky
12-15-2008, 11:28 AM
-Time consumption: I spend the majority of my time building maps, citys, Lore is a big one, and afor mentioned internal progression, and most importantly the battles. My style as before mentioned prefers a couple of massive battles with a few very minor skirmishes that can be resolved without even drawing weapons if the pc's are good enough at diplomicy. And I spend alot of time working on specific main npc's.
This is all pretty system-independent.


Now where I find myself spending more amount of time in 4th E. Lore, my games a very sandbox mentality, in the last edition there were pages of lore for almost all stuff so much in fact that I could cherry pick what I wanted and add flavorfull twist, but in 4e I find myself having to make EVERYTHING. Now im a pretty creative guy like assume all of us DnD players are, But im not a proffesional Wotc dnd writer, and it seems the amount of lore you have to personally generate to attain the same sandbox effect seems like a fulltime job.
I can understand where you're coming from with this. You may want to look around at old content modules, Dungeon and Dragon magazine (even old archives) and explore the 'net some more. While 4E is still relatively new and doesn't have much of a developed back story and world (only Forgotten Realms, at the moment -- plus the generic campaign area in the DMG), time will expand on that.

You're comparing 3rd edition, with it's many years of content to 4th edition's relative new birth.

On the other hand, converting existing lore and backstory/fluff from a prior system, another system or just blatantly stealing someone's campaign ideas are simple ways to decrease the amount of time you spend on developing background info.


The other place I seem to have to spend alot more time on is encounter planning, I found it much more time consuming (and at least for me alot less rewarding) to plan several small sequencial battles than One almighty clusterf**k of one. The very nature of the sytem dictates it to be so.

<snipped the delicious food analogy> :biggrin:
I'm sorry, but I still don't understand what it is about encounter generation that is time consuming and/or difficult to you. In my experience, you can run games that go either way: many small encounters, a few large encounters or a mixed bag. Either way, the encounter system in 4E is a different beast. You can't just take what you did with 3.5E and port it over. The characters are more resilient, some monsters are more wicked and non-minions tend to take longer to down.

It sounds a little like you've running a game with very strong characters (from what you write under Atmosphere, especially).


Atmosphere- Difficult to acheive low fantasy with that extra dash of grit? Next to impossible I say!

The trouble started however after the first pathetic battle. The pc's went up against the first group of plauglings all cautios as they would have one of my 3.5 encounters, but after not even being scratched and dispatching them with barley more than a fart they then treated this creatures (varying from +1-5 encounter level) with little more than humourus contempt.
Ok. Look back on that encounter and tell me why they were able to take out an encounter rated at +1 to +5 of the party's level.

Did they just hit on every strike? Did the monsters use tactics of any sort? Were there any other distractions (pits, rubble, terrain, traps?) on the field of battle? Or were the PCs just so uber that their combined tactical force of arms overwhelmed your plaguelings?

The key here is to learn from the past. What made the monsters just mere humorous mobs? Why did the PCs have such an easy time with such an encounter? Answer those things and then we can begin to address the real meat of your situation. (Grr, your food analogy made me hungry!)


The pc's had no fear of death (and rightly so, freakin HS's)
Just so we're on the same page, you understand that Healing Surges can only be accessed via a Second Wind or a power that specifically uses it, right? I sort of get the feeling that there may be a misunderstanding of how they are used. Even with a party with 2 healers, I can push a front line warrior into bloodied pretty easily. I can typically scare (or punish, if they leave their backlines open) a caster type by bringing them down to low HPs as well.


-Lewt: How I did it in 3.5 is a signifigance based system. Your not going to pull a +3 sword out of an owl bears guts (nor get any freaking gold for that matter). The only way you got crazy gear was either as quest rewards, treasure finding, or off NPC's of signifigance, all my lewt was predetermined.. Needless to say the gear gaps were pretty big and some of my pc's did not get somethin new and fancy till level 8 or so. In 4e It seems to keep a proper power balance you have to give everyone a new peice of gear every level.

A couple of thoughts here:


As Kalanth pointed out, you don't need to upgrade gear every level. PCs can retain a good edge through their innate abilities. Every other level is probably a good thing.
Re-read the treasure section of the DMG, even if you've read it before.
You don't need to reward treasure per encounter. The DMG even encourages this so you can delay the rewards from a couple of encounters to give them a "pile/hoard". (This also gives you the chance to hand out rewards without a challenge -- after a couple of hard fights, that is.)
I think there's something wrong with either your monsters, your players/PCs or both. From what you're describing there's a definite imbalance in your encounters. PCs should not be walking away, without a scratch, from Level +2 encounters, unless they've done a superior job at tactics and planning.

Let's get to the meat and potatoes (and sprinkle some of that himalayan salt on it, too) of your issues. Hopefully, we can provide you with some help in the end. Good luck!

Kazinsky
12-15-2008, 11:42 AM
For example, in a meeting with major leaders of the town of Fallcrest the dwarven fighter PC kinda lost his temper and let these nobles have it and told them in so many words to get their sh*t together. I suddenly felt compelled to make this into a skill challenge or have the dwarf roll a diplomacy or insight or something check, but it was such a good speech that it wasn't needed.

Damn, that sounded like a fun night. You should have given that dwarf like 2000xp for that! :p

Inquisitor Tremayne
12-15-2008, 12:32 PM
Damn, that sounded like a fun night. You should have given that dwarf like 2000xp for that! :p

Yeah you wish!

Kalanth
12-15-2008, 01:02 PM
Damn, that sounded like a fun night. You should have given that dwarf like 2000xp for that! :p

* Hears the Final Fantasy level up music playing *

Wulfenstien
12-17-2008, 03:18 AM
Well, as much as it pains me to admit this, I think I just need to recalibrate my style to adjust to how 4.0 works, I may in time come to enjoy the higher fantasy of play but right now it just irks me. Many of my old styles are just not use able in 4e.

I think Ill start off with this


Shoot for mid fantasy instead of low. I think thats about as dark as 4th e is gonna get no matter how many times you slice it.
Run the majority of encounters at 4+, That way I wont have to plan so many, and I can still devote a descent amount of time to each one, Kinda like the hometown 5 dollar burger, not as good as a resturant but still helluva lot better n Mcdonalds.
Wait for a few more supplements to emerge for 4th before I start DM'ing again, or at least only doing single to double shot adventures. I realize its unfair to compare it with older editions lorewise but still.



Come to terms with the fact that combat has taken on a much more tactical, and less RP attitude than before.
Recalibrate how I do my lore.

I never tried to rewrite a campaign for 4th E. The one I described here was from a world totally built for 4th E, I just was applying alot of the same "rules" in dm style for 4th e that I was in 3.5. But 4th E at least to me seems like an entirely new game :( kinda scary! I DONT UNDERSTAND WHATS GOING ON! I DONT LIKE CHANGE! WAAAAAAGH! (kudos for those of you who got that last part.)

Oh and yes the wizard in the group used to play a freaking warlord and never stopped really. Bloody micro managed every attack and move the party made, and they let em cause they were new >:( were as my monsters were attacking according to there RP not to tact. Though the ambushing thug plauglings did give em a bit o trouble.:laugh:

Kalanth
12-17-2008, 09:14 AM
Don't forget to read the tactics blurb in each monster. Some of them have very simple tactics. For example the Zombie just swarms a single target and beats it to death and still shambles about mindlessly.

Also when you make a fight, not every single combat has to have elaborate environment and terrain. A normal blah room is also a good option to you. Encounters are very easy to stage but if you want less than higher level is good. I tend to do all my combats at level +1 with a cap of level +2. The only one to break that trend is a four part naval battle with the final battle being level +4 (that battle goes in order level 6, level 7, level 7, level 10 for a level 6 party).

Here is an example of one of the combats I wrote up for my campaign. This may help you in the planning stages of your 4e encounters. In the long run this example took me about 10 minutes to put together using a premade map from Mongoose Publishing. If I was to draw the map myself that might add another 10 to 15 minutes.

I mimic the pre-printed writing style as much as possible because it helps to reduce planning time as well. The long tactics section is written to provide myself an idea of how the monsters will act together, and when the combat occured only the first action of the spider and the magical crossbows actually went as written. The only things missing here that are also in my write ups are cut and pasted stat blocks from the .pdf's of the books and a cut and pasted snip of the map that shows the placement of the monsters (hence the name abreviations after the monsters name).

* The experience points fluctuate in my games because we plan out every two weeks and the sessions are roughly 4 - 6 players. So the number here might be a bit off, but this particular encounter was written for a party of 6.

1. Unwanted Guests:
Encounter Level 3 (925xp)

Setup
The entrance to the church is heavily guarded against intruders:
This encounter includes the following creatures:
1 Deathjump Spider (DJ)
2 Hobgoblin Archers (HA)
1 Goblin Skullcleaver (GC)
1 Goblin Hexer (GH)

This encounter includes the following traps:
1 Magic Crossbow Turret (T)

It appears those in this room were preparing to leave in a hurry as the abruptly come to a halt when the doors open. You can make out the glint of metal and hear the distinct sound of chittering as you look onto a party of goblins and hobgoblins. A massive spider salivates hungrily and struggles against its leash as you enter the room.

Tactics:
The monsters here all wear holy symbols of Hade that are attuned with the Magic Crossbow Turrets to prevent the monsters from being attacked by them. When the players enter without such holy symbols the turrets activate and attack the players. The trigger plates are indicated on the map and the turrets will continue firing as long as one player remains inside that area.

Freeing itself from its leash, the Deathjump Spider will immediately use its Death from Above attack to close in and strike. If the spider is bloodied it will use Prodigious Leap toward the doors and attempt to flee. The Hobgoblin Archers will pick a target that deals the most damage (likely the rogues or warlock) and attack with their Longbows. The bonus will be granted to the Goblin Hexer who will begin with the Stinging Hex ability to impair that targets movement. The Goblin Hexer will also use Incite Bravery each time the Goblin Skullcleaver uses his Goblin Tactics to assist in preventing the Goblin Cleaver from being flanked. The Goblin Hexer will also use Vexing Cloud on himself to reduce the number of successful attacks against the Goblin Hexer and uses Blinding Hex on those players that make ranged attacks.

The Goblin Skullcleaver takes point in this battle and will fight along side the Deathjump Spider inside the trigger plate zone to attempt to keep the crossbows actively firing on the players. The Goblin Skullcleaver will use Goblin Tactics as often as possible to try and remain on the very edge of the trigger plates.

Features of the Area:

Illumination: There are everbright lanterns hung on the walls that provide bright light.

1. Wooden Pillars: These large support pillars provide total concealment to those adjacent to the pillar and partial concealment for any that stand one square away from the pillar.
2. Broken Pews: The pews in this area can be used to hide behind and provide superior cover to those that do. With a Strength Check DC 17 the pew can be lifted by one person and used to provide a +2 bonus to any Bull Rush attack.

Wulfenstien
12-18-2008, 12:37 AM
Berry interesting. I like the use of the holy symbols to deter from the magical turret. I assume the pc would be able to pick those up though to make the turret or future turrets null?

Anyway Im going to try to get a group together for 1-3 shot adventure im working on, and Ill let you all know how it goes. Thanks for the tips everyone, but bye all means keep pouring em in!

Kalanth
12-18-2008, 08:54 AM
Berry interesting. I like the use of the holy symbols to deter from the magical turret. I assume the pc would be able to pick those up though to make the turret or future turrets null?

That was the idea, yes. They figured that out when the Paladin in the group decided to retrieve the symbols so as to turn them in the local magistrate. When they encountered another of these traps and the Paladin was the only one not being attacked it dawned on him rather quickly as to why. Surprisingly they did not just distribute the symbols collected, but instead made graples to rip the symbols from the enemy which in turn caused the crossbows to attack the monsters instead of the players.

Wulfenstien
12-19-2008, 04:24 AM
That was the idea, yes. They figured that out when the Paladin in the group decided to retrieve the symbols so as to turn them in the local magistrate. When they encountered another of these traps and the Paladin was the only one not being attacked it dawned on him rather quickly as to why. Surprisingly they did not just distribute the symbols collected, but instead made graples to rip the symbols from the enemy which in turn caused the crossbows to attack the monsters instead of the players.
PC's can be so funny that way :P

Zig
12-20-2008, 08:12 AM
I've only just been introduced to 4e, I've played two game sessions now and in a word... it sucks. I thought maybe if I scoured the net and found the various house rules people were using to mod the system maybe that would help things...

well there are some "classless" point systems out there for character generation that will allow real multi-classed characters from level 1+ which is good, but theres no way to get around the vanilla of the powers the characters use. I mean each class has a power or ability nearly identical to every other class (excepting maybe the warlord class who seems to not do much more than move peope around the map and heal) I dont see any way of fixing that.

about the magic items, feel free to give them out, most of the good fluff has been taken out of them, and for the most part they just add one daily power or some skill adds or both (gauntlets of ogre power give +2 to str checks and once per day give +5 on a dammage roll...not like the formerly overpowering 18.00 str gauntlets I knew and loved) so I dont think giving the characters lots of loot will effect the game much.

I agree that the system isn't good for much more than dungeon crawls myself. has more to do with how they took out just about all the fluff on spells etc, making them only of benifit for combat, and made all the more non-combat spells "rituals" which cost more gold than most characters will find in three adventures.

and yeah the gritty is gone. hard for a AD&D gamer like me to imagine a theif fighting it out with a same level palidin in plate and kicking his ass, but now thats common place. because of the surges and hp boost, and combat changes in class, theives dont have to sneak around any more, mages dont have to hide in the center of the party, etc its like playing "gauntlet" but less interesting.

Pretty much I have decided not to buy the 4e books and want as little as possible to do with 4e in the future. The DM of our game is debating going back to his Savage Worlds forgotten realms conversion game, which I really hope he does. (the main reason he was interested in 4e was because of the digital gaming table that never came out) but I figure the less I have to do with World of Dungeons and Dragonscraft um... I mean 4e... the better.

Kalanth
12-20-2008, 08:36 AM
Itís noble that you would present advice, Zig. But with a closed mind and unwillingness to experience the system and discover all that it offers makes your advice unusable. Looking at a system as you are, with the intent to change as much as you can does not open the door to truly constructive options. That and starting off your advice with "it sucks" generally means the advice you do have is even more likely to be ignored.

Side note, the players get a decent amount of money as they go up in level when the DM sticks close to the parcel system. Ritual costs are a minor speed bump, if that.

shoonvii
12-21-2008, 04:01 AM
Oy vey dude. Seriously.


I've only just been introduced to 4e, I've played two game sessions now and in a word... it sucks. I thought maybe if I scoured the net and found the various house rules people were using to mod the system maybe that would help things...

well there are some "classless" point systems out there for character generation that will allow real multi-classed characters from level 1+ which is good, but theres no way to get around the vanilla of the powers the characters use. I mean each class has a power or ability nearly identical to every other class (excepting maybe the warlord class who seems to not do much more than move peope around the map and heal) I dont see any way of fixing that.

about the magic items, feel free to give them out, most of the good fluff has been taken out of them, and for the most part they just add one daily power or some skill adds or both (gauntlets of ogre power give +2 to str checks and once per day give +5 on a dammage roll...not like the formerly overpowering 18.00 str gauntlets I knew and loved) so I dont think giving the characters lots of loot will effect the game much.

I agree that the system isn't good for much more than dungeon crawls myself. has more to do with how they took out just about all the fluff on spells etc, making them only of benifit for combat, and made all the more non-combat spells "rituals" which cost more gold than most characters will find in three adventures.

and yeah the gritty is gone. hard for a AD&D gamer like me to imagine a theif fighting it out with a same level palidin in plate and kicking his ass, but now thats common place. because of the surges and hp boost, and combat changes in class, theives dont have to sneak around any more, mages dont have to hide in the center of the party, etc its like playing "gauntlet" but less interesting.

Pretty much I have decided not to buy the 4e books and want as little as possible to do with 4e in the future. The DM of our game is debating going back to his Savage Worlds forgotten realms conversion game, which I really hope he does. (the main reason he was interested in 4e was because of the digital gaming table that never came out) but I figure the less I have to do with World of Dungeons and Dragonscraft um... I mean 4e... the better.

Zig
12-21-2008, 08:23 AM
http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6688