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  • DEFCON 1's Avatar
    Today, 02:53 PM
    They're not worth marketing *5E* to. Why would they? They know the game isn't going to give those players what they want, so why bother trying to sugarcoat things or basically fib to them? "No, no... 5E can do what you want! Of course it can! Just give it a try!" Would you be happier if Mike and Co. tried to snowball all of you and treat you like idiots? Being honest at least lets you know...
    181 replies | 3566 view(s)
    2 XP
  • Imaculata's Avatar
    Today, 09:16 AM
    A very good point. The players are the heroes of the story, and so they should have plenty of heroic moments. That includes winning every now and then. I have learned to make all of my villains expendable, so that I don't care when or if they die. I have established a rule for myself, that I have stuck to for years now: I do not introduce a villain, unless I'm prepared to let that villain die....
    38 replies | 889 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Imaculata's Avatar
    Today, 09:07 AM
    I'm curious. They did a great job on the suit, and Brie looks the part. The trailer didn't hook me yet though. But I'm sure we will be seeing more trailers as we approach the film's release.
    11 replies | 572 view(s)
    0 XP
  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Today, 07:48 AM
    The only PathFinder material I've played in 5e was We Be Goblins. I've never played Pathfinder and am not familiar with its APs. The only reason I played We Be Goblins is that it was provided free to Realmworks customers. I really enjoyed it and found it pretty easy to convert to 5e on the fly.
    15 replies | 325 view(s)
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  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Today, 07:34 AM
    Interesting, in another recent thread about bad DMs someone was complaining about DM who read boxed text. One of the main complaints about boxed text is that they gave all this detail put the description of the important things, especially the monsters, at the end. I think it depends on the encounter and feeling your are trying to create. If there is a big, fearsome dragon, it makes sense...
    38 replies | 889 view(s)
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  • pukunui's Avatar
    Today, 04:41 AM
    Thanks guys. I am debating whether or not to get rid of the "army" as well. They certainly don't *need* a shield guardian to help them out, but it could potentially be fun having them deal with sick/poisoned/lost NPCs. I'm also considering saying no long rests unless they find an existing sanctuary or take the time to build themselves an outpost (as per the new downtime activity).
    3 replies | 158 view(s)
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  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Yesterday, 10:19 PM
    And sometimes, both. In my homebrew game, the players would usually succeed but in ways that would get them banished and make powerful enemies. They were not subtle, is what I'm saying. This led to entire new plot lines and some fun encounters, challenges, and role play. But, man...they traveled ALL OVER the world map. I had planned to make a sandbox campaign and ended up with a beach. After...
    38 replies | 889 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Yesterday, 10:11 PM
    For me, it's less about the "immersion," and more about it's simply easier to adjudicate actions as DM if the player is reasonably specific about what he or she wants to do. It also avoids problems as to me making assumptions about what the character is doing and being wrong about it. Combined with a technique of trying to ask only for ability checks and letting the player add the relevant skill...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    1 XP
  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Yesterday, 10:02 PM
    Giving up on keeping up is a great way to save money. Even if more companies start only making their back catalog available on their own services, you can just subscribe to watch the shows you want and cancel. You can only watch a certain amount at a time. Just keep switching what you are subscribing to. If these streaming services stop offering month-to-month subscriptions...well, I have a lot...
    24 replies | 458 view(s)
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  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Yesterday, 09:45 PM
    Not at all. Almost nothing is a deal-breaker for me. I can enjoy playing with all manner of DM styles and systems so long as I enjoy the company of the DM and players. But when *I* am the DM, I see interpreting and applying the rules as a group activity that all players, not just the DM have a say in. I homebrew much less than I used to because I'm more interested in playing and creating...
    16 replies | 338 view(s)
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  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Yesterday, 09:06 PM
    If you were the DM and were having issues with it, you could have just had them knocked out and have them come to in any alley later, missing their coin and other valuables. That could teach a powerful lesson while not killing the entire party if that is how you and the players want to play. I guess that in my games, the players know to be careful. To me, Curse of Strahd is even "worse" (or...
    23 replies | 892 view(s)
    1 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Yesterday, 06:35 PM
    Neat. Also my first character, also in the context of an old keep.
    181 replies | 3566 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Yesterday, 06:05 PM
    It was a carrion crawler in my case. *shakes fist*
    181 replies | 3566 view(s)
    1 XP
  • Imaculata's Avatar
    Yesterday, 09:08 AM
    For me it is slightly different: Homebrew is a collaberative experience. My players like to be part of the process of establishing homebrew rules. Most of my players have also been a DM, and so they have really good ideas for resolving things that the rules as written may not properly cover. I like to involve them, and ask them for ideas.
    38 replies | 889 view(s)
    2 XP
  • Imaculata's Avatar
    Yesterday, 09:00 AM
    There are two things that have made me leave a game immediately: -The DM had no imagination and no preparation. Every npc had the same bland name, and he was unable to describe the surroundings to us. This DM disqualified himself in the first 10 minutes of playing. -The DM was trying to win the game, by introducing an overpowered npc as a substitute for himself, and making all encounters...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    2 XP
  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Yesterday, 08:48 AM
    Oh, I'd also like to point out that when Chris Perkins ran the Acquisitions Incorporated group through a Dragon Heist-based adventure at the most recent PAX convention, Chris Perkins pulled no punches. When Patrick Rothfuss's Rogue (Thief) Viari tried to pickpocket Jarlaxle, Chris had Jarlaxle stab Viari with a poison blade that could easily (and almost did) kill him.
    23 replies | 892 view(s)
    0 XP
  • pukunui's Avatar
    Yesterday, 08:48 AM
    Hi all, So I am thinking of following up Tomb of Annihilation with the second half of Out of the Abyss. So the PCs have returned to the Sword Coast and, in certain circles at least, are being vetted as heroes ... and then they get asked to save the world again by descending into the Underdark to deal with the rumored demonic invasion. Does anyone have any tips for the second half of OotA? I...
    3 replies | 158 view(s)
    0 XP
  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Yesterday, 08:44 AM
    From Chris Perkin's Foreword: It seems like your encounter played out exactly as it should have. Though, under the "Adventure Structure" section it is suggested:
    23 replies | 892 view(s)
    1 XP
  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Yesterday, 08:30 AM
    Law. The players are the lawyers and I'm the judge. The players deserve to know what to expect. If we are playing 5e, I try to stick to RAW. But laws need to be interpreted. Players are not only allowed to question a ruling but I expect them to help me make rulings. We all have a responsibility to know the rules and help apply them. Where there is disagreement, I make a ruling and we...
    16 replies | 338 view(s)
    0 XP
  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Yesterday, 07:31 AM
    When I started playing in 1e, miniatures were mostly used to indicate marching order and sometimes general placement in more complex combat. Never had battlemaps. But I also played a lot of Warhammer 40K miniature games as well as some historical miniature games and we used tape measures. So I like my measuring sticks. Why count out 6 squares if I can just lay down a 6" stick. At that point,...
    29 replies | 700 view(s)
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  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Yesterday, 07:21 AM
    Reading this makes me want to have everyone in my group fill in character sheets for their IRL selves and for each of the other players and then we can compare the stats we gave ourselves with those our friends gave us. Probably a good way to myself listed on the "What the Worst Thing a DM Can Do" thread.
    50 replies | 1458 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Yesterday, 01:19 AM
    Oh, right, that would totally screw up your build. I'd wonder how often the monsters are trying to or able to surprise the PCs. Maybe something's going wrong there, too.
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Yesterday, 01:12 AM
    Is the DM just not running surprise correctly? There are no "surprise rounds." I've seen a ton of DMs get that wrong. Sometimes I even slip and call it that, even if I am running it correctly!
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Yesterday, 12:56 AM
    D&D 5e's process has the DM deciding if a roll is necessary before one is called for which takes place after the player has described what he or she wants to do. If the task is obviously impossible, the result is failure, no roll. If it's trivially easy, the result is success, no roll. If it's somewhere in between, has an uncertain outcome, and a meaningful consequence of failure, then some kind...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    0 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Yesterday, 12:27 AM
    That's a pretty uncharitable way to present that.
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 08:35 PM
    One thing I do is just ask for the ability check and the player applies whatever skill proficiency he or she thinks appropriate to the approach that was attempted. The rules say it's appropriate for the player to ask if a skill proficiency applies but I prefer to skip that step because I expect good faith play from my players. This method makes it a bit easier on the DM and avoids any...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    2 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 08:32 PM
    Haha! I'm told that I'm a pretty consistent as a DM. Which I'm happy about because that's a trait I value. I suppose that depends on your definition of "railroad," which I find many in the RPG community define too broadly. I provide the opportunity for the player to make a reasonably informed choice by describing the environment. The player describes what he or she wants to do. I...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    0 XP
  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 08:09 PM
    My homebrew campaign has a huge map with many fleshed out areas. The 2 year campaign I ran there met once a month for 8 hours. At the end of the session, I asked the players what their characters were planning on doing next, where they were planning on going and I had a month to prep the next session. So the players themselves provided the focus. I saw my job and creating the bones of...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    1 XP
  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 07:57 PM
    I'm picturing this.
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
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  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 07:55 PM
    I thought he was describing an early generation GM AI.
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
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  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 07:52 PM
    Same with PC death. I remember a game from high school when my best friend was running a game for me and a number of our other friends. I died early in the game and was basically ignored from there on. I hung about for about 45 minutes and went home. I felt snubbed by the entire group, even though it wasn't their intent. As a DM I always try to make room for a player to get back into the...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    1 XP
  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 07:32 PM
    After I got back into gaming after more than two decades away from it, an old friend of mine who remained very active in the hobby sent me a binder of campaign stuff from high school. A few things stood out: 1. My handwriting has not improved. 2. My writing was pretty good back then. I'm not sure that I've really improved that much in this regard, mostly because my writing has been almost...
    38 replies | 889 view(s)
    5 XP
  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 07:09 PM
    When I got back into gaming I took months to create a homebrew world. I enjoy this, it is a hobby in and of itself and something I would do any, even if I wasn't playing. But when I started the campaign, I would write up detailed summaries of the last session and I would write up things that were happening between sessions. We were playing monthly 8-hour games. Because so much time passed between...
    38 replies | 889 view(s)
    3 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 06:58 PM
    Couple of side notes for everyone's reference since I (sadly) have them memorized: Check out DMG 236-237, "Role of the Dice" and "Using Ability Scores." It talks about different approaches, including once where the DM calls for a lot of ability checks, and their respective drawbacks. (The drawbacks mentioned to the "Roll With It" approach are interesting.) The latter section explains the...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    1 XP
  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 06:43 PM
    There are no innocent PCs. :-)
    38 replies | 889 view(s)
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  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 06:29 PM
    As player or DM I would consider this an asset. It might annoy the no-call, no-show player, but sometimes it is appropriate to make people uncomfortable if their behavior is impacting others negatively.
    29 replies | 700 view(s)
    1 XP
  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 06:18 PM
    (emphasis mine) This isn't fair to 5e. From the Basic Rules: I think there must be a lot of DMs out there that read this and think "hmm, well there is *always* a *chance* of failure, so I'll have them role for everything." But even those DMs don't really play like that. They don't have PCs role for every footstep, because there is always a chance of misstepping. If I were writing...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    1 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 06:04 PM
    That's a really good one. A lot of DMs bite off a lot more than they can chew. One of the players in my circle but not in my regular games was recently lamenting about how, just once, she would like to finish a campaign. I gave your response more or less to her because that has definitely been my experience as well. I added that DMs rarely seem to think about the real time commitment of even a...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    0 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 05:25 PM
    I'm not sure how you come away with this from my post. So let me be more clear: If a player is indicating a desire to go from one place to another in the city, I'm going to ask what the character does along the way. If the player establishes that the character is doing anything that distracts from being vigilant, then he or she has no chance of noticing the pickpocket. That's in line with the...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    0 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 04:19 PM
    What... what happened?
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 04:08 PM
    Found some time thanks in no small part to Ristamar. Which I'm happy about because I didn't want you to think I was just ignoring the effort you put into this post. Good policy. I'm not here to defend the design of D&D 5e. It works and it's fun enough in my opinion.
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    0 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 02:55 PM
    No condescension intended - apologies if it looks that way.
    21 replies | 433 view(s)
    1 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 02:19 PM
    Such is the issue with examples lacking the additional context available at the table. The example under discussion implies there is enough context for the player to believe the the statue is religious in nature, hence the mention of having the Religion skill proficiency. (Perhaps they are in a ruined temple.) Presumably the DM would be aware of the same context, having read or designed the...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    0 XP
  • Imaculata's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 10:12 AM
    Don't ask your players to make pointless rolls I used to constantly let my players check for traps in hallways where there are no traps, or have them make perception checks when there was nothing to perceive, as a bandaid so that they wouldn't know when they are in actual danger. I am so glad I stopped doing this. I just straight up tell my players the outcome of their action, without a roll...
    38 replies | 889 view(s)
    5 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 07:42 AM
    It's literally one sentence. And it serves a couple of different purposes at the same time. I would call that efficient storytelling and gameplay.
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    0 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 07:41 AM
    Celebrim: I know you know this because you've mentioned it before, but your posts are exceedingly long and dense. I really just don't have the time to address them in as equally a thorough manner. I don't want to sound dismissive because I do appreciate the effort, but this is really too much. I may not get to them for days and the thread will have moved on by then I suspect. If it hasn't then I...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    0 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 06:59 AM
    "How might you know?"
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    1 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 06:57 AM
    I don't and have never played in Adventurers League.
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 06:48 AM
    I don't blame you.
    29 replies | 700 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 06:35 AM
    Yeah, I don't know - my gaming schedule is pretty packed. I play in more games than I run right now. I'm actually really easy to satisfy. All we need to do is get stuff done and/or the game needs to be funny. And if you can avoid asking for ability checks when I haven't described an action, that's even better. And really, really easy to boot. If you can't, no harm done. I got other games I can...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    0 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 06:26 AM
    Imagine a player saying something like "Drawing upon my previous life as an acolyte in service to the church on the Street of a Thousand Gods, I try to recall lore about the significance of this figure." Awesome. The player has stated how he or she might know something about who is depicted in the statue and has even offered a little bit of backstory which tells everyone at the table who this...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    2 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 06:08 AM
    So I've addressed saving throws in this and another similar thread in the General forum. I consider them inelegant design in D&D 5e given how ability checks are handled and figure it's just a nod toward nostalgia. I'd rather it be like Dungeon World's "Defy Danger" or perhaps D&D 4e's attacks versus defenses. But ultimately, they are what they are and they are the rules of this game which is...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    0 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 05:10 AM
    Nobody's ever told me that I annoyed them as a player, but I do know I have some weaknesses that are certainly of zero help to the team. First, I have terrible spatial sense. Stick me in a relatively complex dungeon like the Tomb of Annihilation and my character would starve to death in there before I ever found my way out. So I am absolutely no help when it comes to navigating. Along those...
    29 replies | 700 view(s)
    1 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 04:59 AM
    That's a good one!
    38 replies | 889 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 04:54 AM
    Let's not lose the thread here: My objection is in asking for an ability check before I describe what I want to do, not to simply describing the environment without an unprompted ability check. The rules lay out what describing the environment is all about - where the adventurers are, what's around them (which I would reasonably say includes 50-foot-tall letters that spell something out), and...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
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  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 04:21 AM
    I've been enjoying all the discussion about bad DMing practices in other threads. And I always enjoy bad-player horror stories. But these always seem to be about the flaws of OTHER players. It is kinda like how the majority of drivers feel that they are better than average drivers. That obviously cannot be true. Similarly, we can't always be the victims of bad behavior, we some of us, sometimes,...
    29 replies | 700 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 04:13 AM
    Some of the stuff I find sub par is unrelated to this thread. But I try to avoid starting description or narration with "You," as a way to avoid potentially telling the players what their characters are doing. (That's a good trick in my experience.) Further, the player has not stated a complete goal (what he or she wants to accomplish) and approach (how he or she goes about achieving the goal)...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    1 XP
  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 03:42 AM
    Wait, I've been following this debate pretty closely, mostly agreeing with you, but what is "bad" about scenario 1?
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    1 XP
  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 03:38 AM
    Not directed at me, but I'll give my thoughts anyway--and give them knowing that I am not always consistent, breaking rules intentionally and unintentionally sometimes, and am overall a bit of a hypocrite when it comes to gaming. In other words, I'll compromise my gaming beliefs and preferences to better ensure I and the group have fun. This is my preferred style as DM and player and the...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    0 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 03:14 AM
    I don't really want to get into specific examples for what should be in my view a simple point backed up by the game itself, but I would say these are all bad for various reasons.
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 02:20 AM
    That's describing the environment which precedes the players describing what they want to do. After they do, then the DM can call for ability checks if necessary.
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 02:16 AM
    Another way to set expectations is to say "After I describe the environment, you can do stuff and, in the doing, you might find some clues. So, what do you do?" :)
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 02:11 AM
    There are no "skill checks" in D&D 5e. There are ability checks which may or may not have a skill proficiency applied to them. Ability checks are necessarily resolving an action by the character. That is the definition of an ability check as I point out here. Passive checks are just a special kind of ability check that doesn't involve any die rolls. If the DM is calling for an ability check...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 02:04 AM
    "An ability check tests a character's or monster's innate talent and training in an effort to overcome a challenge. The DM calls for an ability check when a character or monster attempts an action (other than an attack) that has a chance of failure." (Basic Rules, page 58) Therefore, if you are calling for me to make an ability check, my character must be attempting an action of some kind....
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 12:19 AM
    I've never found arguments based on how things work "in real life" to be very convincing when it comes to how to play D&D. And I would say it's a storytelling game (Basic Rules, page 2), not a dice game. A player describing his or her character as trying to draw upon knowledge hard won at a wizarding school to recall the weaknesses of trolls is telling a story by establishing that fiction. That...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 20th September, 2018, 12:11 AM
    Yep, that is correct. It still doesn't say the DM can ask me to make a check without me describing what I want to do. So the DM can feel free to resolve my described action with a passive check if he or she wants to keep it secret. He or she still can't say what my character is doing.
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th September, 2018, 11:43 PM
    Honestly, I would not make that assumption. That's right at the heart of my objection: DMs just dragging their approaches from other games into this game. It doesn't say not to do literally everything it doesn't mention including not to set yourself on fire. I don't think that's a very good argument for doing something though. :) If you look for support for asking players to make checks...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    1 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th September, 2018, 10:37 PM
    I've been at this over 25 years now and I can say that there is always room for improvement. I am constantly going back to revisit the fundamentals of the game I'm currently playing the most (D&D 5e) which is no doubt why I'm on the forums harping on the same three things all the time. Because if one can get the fundamentals of the game system down, the rest is so much easier. I didn't always...
    38 replies | 889 view(s)
    3 XP
  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th September, 2018, 10:18 PM
    I hope that it can be a more reliable source of income for content creators than YouTube. YouTube is great when you have massive followings but it is hard to justify continued effort when you have smaller fan bases. Yet, many fans or fans of the genre may be willing to spend a few bucks to continue indie series.
    24 replies | 458 view(s)
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  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th September, 2018, 10:15 PM
    I've been enjoying the discussions on the "worst thing a DM can do" and what has made you walk away from the table. But it does all start feeling pretty negative and makes me a bit anxious about getting behind the screen the next game. I'd like to think that I've improved as a DM over time and most DMs do the same. Reading about how we've improved our game may help others improve theirs. So,...
    38 replies | 889 view(s)
    16 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th September, 2018, 09:55 PM
    Good observation. I too have probably left more games because of the other players than the DM. I've been very lucky with players in my own games though so I've never had to quit on them. Some pickup groups (I've run for hundreds of players on Roll20) have been better than others, but nobody was ever so bad that I couldn't continue DMing for them or had to give them the boot.
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th September, 2018, 09:51 PM
    It's right in the section called "How to Play." The DM describes the environment. The players describe what they want to do. (The DM might call for a check at this point or might not.) The DM narrates the results of the adventurers' actions. Repeat, for every single kind of scene in the game. It doesn't say to call for a check before the players describe what they want to do because maybe the DM...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th September, 2018, 09:27 PM
    Yeah, I don't try to take D&D too seriously. It's inherently silly in my view, both as a genre and as an activity. Curse of Strahd for me looks like a B horror movie, not some sweeping gothic tale. More Evil Dead than serious horror. Serious moments can arise in our games, but they are rare and arguably more impactful as a result. I'm okay with a game that isn't funny, but where we get a lot...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    3 XP
  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th September, 2018, 09:17 PM
    Hmm, for me, I'd drop the "ny" at the end of that sentence. For a game to be fun it doesn't have to be funny. Also, one of my pet peeves is players or GMs that try to make everything a joke, especially if they are not good at it. Slap-stick gaming works better in some systems than others. For example, most Paranoia games end up on the slapstick side of things and may become frustrating if players...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    5 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th September, 2018, 09:15 PM
    Thanks for the heads up. The links are fixed. If you play it, please let me know how it goes!
    29 replies | 6162 view(s)
    0 XP
  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th September, 2018, 09:08 PM
    Wow. What made the DM so bad that made such an ego-crushing intervention was required? How did s/he take it? Offended or relieved to have the burden removed?
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    0 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th September, 2018, 08:32 PM
    Since I'm primarily concerned with the player's continued participation in the game which is impacted greatly by character death, I encourage the players to make backup characters that can be tapped in after their other PC dies as quickly as the player wants it to happen. This way, nobody is sitting around waiting to play any longer than they want to. "Main" PCs and backup PCs are created at the...
    34 replies | 742 view(s)
    3 XP
  • pukunui's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th September, 2018, 08:15 PM
    Wasn’t there a whole print run of the special edition of Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes that was recalled because of this issue?
    6 replies | 236 view(s)
    0 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th September, 2018, 08:10 PM
    Your own loop has the player describing an action before the DM calls for the "fortune check." Why then is my assertion that you don't get to ask for a check before I describe an action "weird?" Ability checks and saving throws are different things in D&D 5e. I would say that saving throws are somewhat at odds with 5e's "How to Play" and I surmise included as they are for nostalgic...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    0 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th September, 2018, 07:29 PM
    The DM doesn't need to ask for checks, unprompted by a player's description of what he or she wants to do, to provide information. He or she can just... give them the information when describing the environment. If the players want more information, they can take effective action to achieve that which may or may not call for an ability check. There is really no reason in my view to gate...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    2 XP
  • DEFCON 1's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th September, 2018, 06:13 PM
    Actually, it was just this sort of "creative spell use" premise that had Keith Baker and the others create Dragonmarks for Eberron. While the actual spells themselves as written do not accomplish exactly what is necessary to create these kind of "sending stations", the game world itself goes into detail about how when you use dragonshards in conjunction with the magic you gain from dragonmarks,...
    3 replies | 164 view(s)
    1 XP
  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th September, 2018, 06:03 PM
    So I subscribed to The Fantasy Network on a whim last night after an evening training. I hadn't heard of it before your post but I've backed ZOE Kickstarter campaigns and love all their free stuff on YouTube. My first impression is that that there just isn't enough content available to make an ongoing subscription worth it. I suspect that I will watch everything I want in a month, maybe two,...
    24 replies | 458 view(s)
    1 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th September, 2018, 05:56 PM
    iserith replied to Table Rules
    My Table Rules are as follows, and I post them to the campaign forum of all my games. This one below is for my regular group in a longer campaign. I change them a bit for my one-shot games. 1. Before doing or saying anything, remember to consider the goals of play by asking yourself, "Is what I'm about to do or say going to be fun for everyone at the table? Is what I'm about to do or say going...
    28 replies | 645 view(s)
    2 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th September, 2018, 04:54 PM
    Yes, it's been my experience that DMs who have not run 5e or who run 5e like other games ask for ability checks without the player describing what he or she wants to do. That is not how things are prescribed in D&D 5e. You don't get to ask for a check until I've described what I want to do, exactly as your "fundamental decision loop of an RPG" suggests above. It's a wonder why you would violate...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    1 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th September, 2018, 03:13 PM
    I have a rule of thumb when it comes to sticking around in a game: We have to Get Stuff Done. It has to be funny. Checking off both of those boxes is perfect. Just one is okay, for a while. If neither of those boxes is checked, the game is unacceptable and I will leave. But if in any of these games the DM runs the game like it's some other game, it will annoy me enough that I will quit....
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    0 XP
  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th September, 2018, 08:57 AM
    Craigslist FLGS Half Price Books (if you have them in your area) But I can't help but ask why you have not played in 20 years? I did the same thing, but I had sold given away most of my stuff before I stopped playing. Now that I'm playing again I wished I kept some of it but I'm not really a collector and have no issues culling my collection. I wonder if it feels like a millstone around...
    15 replies | 366 view(s)
    0 XP
  • MNblockhead's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th September, 2018, 08:31 AM
    I've read many threads on what makes a good DM, DM pitfalls, and, most recently, the "worst" thing a DM can do. These threads often have many posts with hyperbolic language about how the poster would walk out on any DM who does X. In some cases, such as abusive behavior, I can understand leaving the group and even walking out mid-session. But in many cases, the walk-out worthy behavior is...
    221 replies | 5097 view(s)
    0 XP
  • pukunui's Avatar
    Wednesday, 19th September, 2018, 02:56 AM
    That gives me an idea! I can run the second half of Out of the Abyss. In thanks for stopping the death curse, the Sword Coast’s power brokers ask the PCs to lead an expedition into the Underdark to deal with rampaging demons!
    20 replies | 598 view(s)
    0 XP
  • pukunui's Avatar
    Tuesday, 18th September, 2018, 09:34 PM
    I like it! Maybe they’re only pretending to be overawed but are actually trying to make contact with the earth primordial locked beneath the mountains. Maybe they think of it as an avatar of Ogremoch or something.
    472 replies | 102985 view(s)
    0 XP
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Saturday, 22nd September, 2018


Friday, 21st September, 2018



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Saturday, 22nd September, 2018

  • 04:13 AM - pemerton mentioned iserith in post Burning Questions: What's the Worst Thing a DM Can Do?
    I guess so, but I'm trying to think about how 'who gets to roll dice' translates to a feeling of agency.I think it often does, but I also think this is something of an illusion - unless the dice-rolling player has deft wrists and quick fingers! Also, the probability of the group spotting in the second example is not only reliant on the GM rolling well, but the players in opposition to that roll. So if the GM rolls badl but the highest player also rolls bdly, maybe it's the poor guy with the low perception that flukely saves the group - that's a cool story dictated by the dice.Maybe, though is perhaps a bit sucky for the person who invested PC build resources in WIS and Perception! In AD&D there is only 1 surprise die rolled for the party, using the best die (eg one ranger means the whole party is surprised only on a 1 in 6) - so 5e in this respect seems consistent with that strand of D&D tradition. You see, I'm still not sure that in Iserith's example that this would grant an active check. Or weather this counts as 'Keeping Watch' and therefore, in Iserith's mind, is still passive.I've asked him about this and so hopefully will soon learn! As for the example 'with context', take the example in isolation for a moment. There's a few contextual factors that might change the needle here but I they also change the purity of the example, I guess. Whatframing do you think underides the mechanics as set out?What I'm getting at here is my version of iserith's "telegraphing". When I GM, I don't do telegraphing in that way - rather, the telegraphing comes from what the PCs put at stake via the build and play of their PCs from the "story"/narrative point of view (see also my reply to Nagol not far upthread).

Friday, 21st September, 2018

  • 09:00 AM - pemerton mentioned iserith in post Burning Questions: What's the Worst Thing a DM Can Do?
    I've found this discussion/debate about the role of Perception and similar checks quite interesting. As I understand it, iserith treats it all as an issue of GM framing - it is the GM's job to establish the scene ("describe the environment" is the term used in the Basic Rules, but I think the GM can reasonably add in other stuff too, even in 5e, eg after a particular bit of action has been resolved the GM might narrate "You've outrun the imperial guards and are back at the castle, panting and sweaty. What's next?") If the GM wants the scene to include the PC's noticing missing gauntlest, then s/he incorporates this in his/her framing. Otherwise s/he doesn't - but if the players want to mention that they look around the castle for strange stuff that might give clues to whatever-it-is-that-matters, then they're free to do so and the GM might tell them some stuff, or call for a check, as seems appropriate depending on the details: how you describe the environment is entirely up to you as DM. <snip> Again, you describe the environment how you want - you're the DM! You don't need dice for permission on h...
  • 03:44 AM - Quickleaf mentioned iserith in post Mitigating players spamming Help, Guidance, Bardic Inspiration, and oh I’ll roll too?
    ... other way team up to make your ally’s attack more effective. If your ally attacks the target before your next turn, the first attack roll is made with advantage. Furthermore, the rules clarify the requirements of helping... Working Together Sometimes two or more characters team up to attempt a task. The character who’s leading the effort—or the one with the highest ability modifier—can make an ability check with advantage, reflecting the help provided by the other characters. In combat, this requires the Help action (see chapter 9). A character can only provide help if the task is one that he or she could attempt alone. For example, trying to open a lock requires proficiency with thieves’ tools, so a character who lacks that proficiency can’t help another character in that task. Moreover, a character can help only when two or m ore individuals working together would actually be productive. Some tasks, such as threading a needle, are no easier with help. I believe it was iserith who was saying that Help and Working Together are fundamentally different, the first only applying in combat and the latter only applying out of combat. However, that interpretation creates dissonance on the player's side – "why is it different?" – and even the language in the "Working Together" paragraph mentions the word "help" multiple times. When you start getting into arguments that, well, "help" isn't "Help" with a capital H, in my opinion that's a breakdown of the rules. And, essentially, they have the same effect: providing advantage. The only question is, does 5e not have as stringent restrictions on who can Help as it does on who can Work Together? And if it's intentional that Working Together is more stringent out-of-combat, why is it that in combat Help is less stringent? IMO, that makes no sense, so I interpret the "Working Together" paragraph as applying equally to the "Help" action, meaning it's the DM's prerogative to say: "Well, how are you helping your companio...
  • 12:27 AM - Inchoroi mentioned iserith in post What DM flaw has caused you to actually leave a game?
    Maybe so. But as a show of hands, how many players here are comfortable with a DM that privileges a process of play that allows him to deny you fortune tests when he wants to mess with your character? One thing that in my experience players don't like is a feeling that they were being treated unfairly. How many players have you had who would be ok in the long term with ideas like, "You don't even get a resisted check to oppose the pickpocket because you didn't say the magic words I wanted to hear?" I can't think of any. With respect, I have to say I'd disagree with @iserith and his way of doing things, but probably not enough to quit a game over; it would take me a while, but I'm a fairly proactive sort of player (depending on character, however; I get very into character and if the character is dumb, well, I'm dumb, too) so I think I'd get used to it eventually.

Thursday, 20th September, 2018

  • 08:08 PM - Celebrim mentioned iserith in post What DM flaw has caused you to actually leave a game?
    ...t or move it?" and so forth, and for that sort of thing we do need propositions that take the form of an action. But just seeing something? Just trying to understand a language spoken to you? Or just trying to understand the significance of a mural you see on the wall and needing to call the right skill to use and match it to its significance? Then yes, that very much is a "Mother may I?" sort of thing. Player: May I understand what my character sees yet? DM: No, you may not. Player: If I say 'Religion' may I understand then. DM: No, you didn't say the magic word. Player: Is Arcane the magic word? DM: No it is not. Player: Is Investigate the magic word? DM: No, it isn't that either. Player: What about 'history'? In regard to the application of passive checks, the approach and goal of a "passive" task is likely to vary a great deal from table to table. Agreed. I think that several different potential processes of play have been outlined here, and I agree that iserith seems to have adopted additional non-rule based processes of play to compensate for his hard-nosed insistence on the letter of the law - telegraphing to the players for example what things that they should call out that they are paying attention to. Without watching his process of play, I can't really speak to how well that would work out.
  • 02:34 PM - Ristamar mentioned iserith in post What DM flaw has caused you to actually leave a game?
    And this brings us to my biggest objection to being hidebound about this, and that is that you are "pixel bitching". (I don't know if I can use that term here, but it is the technical one.) By that I mean that you are waiting for your players to say the magical words or phrases that unlock the content, and until they say the right things you aren't going to let them use their abilities. I don't care to speak for anyone, but having read enough posts from iserith, I feel I can refute this assertion. Asking for an approach is not an exercise in pixel bitching. Quite the opposite. Pixel potpourri might be a more appropriate term. If a player describes any course of action that would inevitably facilitate success, there's no need to roll or say the magic words, the action simply succeeds. Simple adjudication. When the action has a questionable degree of success and there are consequences for failure, the dice come into play. Without a stated approach, the DM has to take a best guess at the form of the action, perhaps even guess the true goal. If negative consequences occur as a result of that action, the player may object to the DM interpretation and cry foul. Any subsequent arguments or discussion that follow would have easily been avoided if the player simply provided a clear approach with an intended goal. If there's any confusion about the approach or the goal, it can be resolved before the dice are cast (if necessary). In additio...
  • 07:30 AM - Celebrim mentioned iserith in post What DM flaw has caused you to actually leave a game?
    iserith: Well, at least I think I understand where you are coming from now. I had totally misunderstood the thrust of your argument, hence your confusion over why I was talking about rail roading. I had thought you were standing on the principle of player agency. In fact it seems more the case now that you explain yourself is that you are standing on the principle of the rules are the rules, and ought to be followed strictly as written. So all my discussion about process loops, player agency, and railroading was only tangential to the point you were trying to make. Ok, I get that. And for the record were I to try to run 5e, I would certainly endeavor to play it by the rules at least until I understood what the rules were trying to accomplish, and what they were really good at and what they were not so good at. It certainly is the case that writer's of 5e try to go out of there way to frame ability checks as occurring as the result of some task resolution. However, I think that whi...

Wednesday, 19th September, 2018

  • 01:43 AM - CleverNickName mentioned iserith in post Mitigating players spamming Help, Guidance, Bardic Inspiration, and oh I’ll roll too?
    I agree with iserith. The only thing I'll add is that I'm pretty good at remembering the first dice rolled and its result, but I'm deliberately rubbish at remembering everything else when players start talking over each other or calling actions out of turn. Player 1: I check for traps...rats, I rolled a three, for six total. I'll... Player 2: *interrupting* I'll help you search! Player 3: *interrupting* I give you guidance! Player 4: *interrupting* I'll check too! Player 3: *interrupting again* Wait, let me give you guidance too! Player 5: *interrupting* Let me sing for inspiration first! Me: *waits for everyone to stop throwing dice all over the place* Me: *proceeds with the story as if all results, of all rolls, for all characters involved, no matter what or why or how, amounted to a result of six.*

Tuesday, 18th September, 2018

  • 07:48 PM - DM Dave1 mentioned iserith in post Mitigating players spamming Help, Guidance, Bardic Inspiration, and oh I’ll roll too?
    @iserith @robus @ad_hoc A lot of advice about “Players don’t decide when to roll, the DM does.” Yep! My issue is not that I don’t practice that; it is that I am getting worn down constantly policing the players on this issue & constantly finding new ways to explain this specific to a scenario as one or more players eagerly reach for their dice. It’s tiring for me because I love to say “yes” to my players & the policing part is my least favorite part of DMing. Whether you love or hate his shtick, The Angry GM has some good advice on this (and many other) topics: https://theangrygm.com/adjudicate-actions-like-a-boss/ Every session since I started DMing this group about 11 sessions ago (January), I’ve found myself doing this kind of policing. Some players are more egregious than others, but it’s definitely a group issue. They came from a Pathfinder background. Not sure if this is a system difference thing, but it really feels like I have to keep reminding everyone. Heck, I’m even making the cr...
  • 06:44 PM - Elfcrusher mentioned iserith in post Mitigating players spamming Help, Guidance, Bardic Inspiration, and oh I’ll roll too?
    ...if you force them to justify it with RP they're going to start using bad/repetitive RP, which in my book is worse than no RP at all. I think it needs to be a mechanical solution, but I admit I say that without knowing what the mechanical solution is. In general there should be a cost to making attempts at things (e.g. precious time, consequences of failure, etc. Or using up a resource...which Bardic Inspiration is, of course.) But sometimes there simply is no cost, in which case you might want to ask, "Why are we rolling dice?" For example, let's say the party is looking for a book in the library, and there is no time pressure on them. Instead of everybody rolling Investigation, or somebody using Help to support somebody else, just let them find the damned book! But let's say it's an ancient library with rickety shelves, and searching for books runs the risk of causing a catastrophic collapse. Now you can sit back and say, "Ok! Who wants to do some searching?" And/or there's iserith's solution.
  • 06:30 PM - Quickleaf mentioned iserith in post Mitigating players spamming Help, Guidance, Bardic Inspiration, and oh I’ll roll too?
    iserith robus ad_hoc A lot of advice about “Players don’t decide when to roll, the DM does.” Yep! My issue is not that I don’t practice that; it is that I am getting worn down constantly policing the players on this issue & constantly finding new ways to explain this specific to a scenario as one or more players eagerly reach for their dice. It’s tiring for me because I love to say “yes” to my players & the policing part is my least favorite part of DMing. “No, you can’t Help/Work Together because you haven’t said anything that would be helpful in this negotiation. Is there something you’d like to speak up and add to support the Bard’s arguement?” “No, Bard player, you can’t roll to beat the druid’s Nature check because you haven’t proposed doing anything substantially different. Besides the Druid is the *best* in your party at Nature lore. You might try a new approach?” “No, Sorcerer player, you can’t make a History check here. Because nothing in your background as a native of the fo...
  • 06:18 PM - Shiroiken mentioned iserith in post Mitigating players spamming Help, Guidance, Bardic Inspiration, and oh I’ll roll too?
    I've had this issue a time or two, and it's not hard to fix. Bardic Inspiration and Guidance are abilities like any other. Unless you're particular about having casters describe every spell they cast and warriors every sword swing, it's a bit unfair to put them under the spotlight to use these abilities. The only limitation I put on these is they must have already been used before the call for a check, and they can't be used for activities that take longer than their duration. They'll still get used a lot (especially guidance), but the player chose to get the ability, they should be allowed to benefit from it. As iserith said, Help is a combat action, working together is for out of combat. Players who do not actively participate do not provide any benefit. The two of them could both participate, granting advantage, but they can't come in after the fact (such as to save a bad roll). I use group checks far more than suggested in the PHB, because I feel it's a good way to adjudicate when the group works together. For example, I use it when the group is attempting to be stealthy, because I assume that the people good at stealth will help the clutz in the plate mail. Lore checks are also done as group checks, except I don't punish failure; instead each success grants a little more information. Oh, one other thing you didn't mention: I don't allow rechecks, pretty much ever. The check indicates your ability to succeed or fail at a task; trying again will get the same result. The only way to attempt the check again is if something major has changed since the original check.

Wednesday, 12th September, 2018

  • 06:47 PM - DM Dave1 mentioned iserith in post Running a Stand-in PC
    ...oo much of that character's story could be controlled by someone else and could end in something that the player doesn't like. I generally have something happen that requires the missing player's character to be temporarily unavailable, and just proceed with the available players as is. For example, they may get summoned away by someone important to them for help with something. I've also had a character get reduced in size by a shrink potion, and have the other characters carry them around in a backpack or something, mostly just ignoring them. Then, when the player is back, I let them quickly find a way to return the character to normal size and move on. Yep, this is pretty much what I do if the PCs are in the middle of some quest from one session to the next. In the most recent example, the gnome wizard (whose player missed the prior session) popped out of another PC's saddle bag. He had been napping in there for the past few days! In our West Marches style campaign (similar to iserith mentions above), this just isn't an issue as each session is a discrete adventure. Whoever can show up is the party for that session. The other PCs who are not on the adventure are just spending time in town doing non-adventurey things - perhaps even earning some downtime perks depending on how much game-world time has passed. PCs on the adventure are rewarded with XP for participating. No one is punished for not being there. (can opened... worms visible...)

Thursday, 30th August, 2018

  • 01:01 AM - pemerton mentioned iserith in post What is the GM's Job?
    Do you think there is a "universal" role of the GM (at least in traditional RPGs) or is it entirely based on the individual game?Not iserith, but no, I don't think that there is a "universal" role of the GM. The idea that there is a "universal" role is (in my view) one major cause of bad RPGing expriences.

Wednesday, 29th August, 2018

  • 07:48 PM - Satyrn mentioned iserith in post Social skills vs. ... all other mechanics
    I sometimes wonder if people really make as big an issue of some of these things in real games as they seem to imply. I find it hard to believe most DMs wouldn't accept "I track the wolves" or similar. In the rare case that intent isn't clear, I just ask for clarification. I think it's more that, in our forum discussions, we use these simple obvious examples to illustrate our points, but because they are simple obvious examples that are readily resolved and understood at the table, it looks to "the other side" that we're extraordinarily picky. The examples get in the way of our point. My point was supposed to be that, as far as it relates to how @iserith doing things, @Blue is mistaking the approach for the goal, and in doing so, is concluding that iserith needs more detail than he does. That is, by suggesting to Blue that if he considers "locating the wolves" is the goal, "tracking them" looks like a viable approach. If "unlocking the chest" is the goal, "picking the lock" probably suffices as the approach. And maybe he'll see that iserith isn't requiring all the extra detail thinks is needed.

Wednesday, 22nd August, 2018

  • 09:32 AM - clearstream mentioned iserith in post Missing Rules
    Not to speak for Iserith here, but I’m pretty sure you’re misunderstanding what they meant by the word “approach.” You’re describing the approach the DM uses to resolve actions. Iserith, unless I’m very much mistaken, is referring to the approach the PC uses to attempt to achieve their goal. The rules don’t say what approach or approaches to the goal of jumping an unusually long distance have uncertain outcomes. That falls to the DM’s judgment. Some DMs consider, “try to jump more than my strength in feet” a viable approach to the goal “jump further than my strength in feet” to have an uncertain outcome in most if not all situations, while others (such as myself) don’t consider it to have an uncertain outcome. The rules (to their credit, in my opinion,) don’t tell us if either is right or wrong. iserith would be making a fair point then :D However, it doesn't seem right for you to migrate a fair point about the open question of what approaches players may take, to a mechanical point about what is implied ...

Tuesday, 21st August, 2018

  • 05:07 AM - Maxperson mentioned iserith in post Missing Rules
    What's the objection to a player having his/her PC trying to jump further than normal every time s/he wants to? Does that seem unrealistic? No. Does it break the game, or even put it under strain? Almost certainly not. Does it mean (as you assert) that those longer jumps are not going to be unusual? Well, how often they are attempted will depend on how often those larger distances become salient in the ficiton, so in advance of actual play who can tell? But even if the attempts are quite frequent, who knows - in advance of setting a DC and making some rolls - what the frequency of success will be? It makes the leaps with extra distance usual, not unusual as the rules say. Do I think it's unrealistic to go variable distances with effort? No. Does it break the game? No. That isn't the rules, though, and this is a rules discussion. I also prefer that the players to describe their actions to me like iserith and Charlaquin. I'm trying to get one of my players over the bad habit(personal opinion) of just asking to roll certain skills. All my asking of "How?" is starting to sink in, and he's catching himself more and more often.
  • 03:36 AM - pemerton mentioned iserith in post Missing Rules
    The beauty of the goal/approach method is that I don’t need to have a bunch of specific examples memorized for what would or wouldn’t constitute what kind of check at what DC. I can evaluate that at the table, with the full and appropriate context, based on the player’s stated goal and approach. So, I don’t have an example of an approach for you off the top of my head. Give me an example and I’ll tell you how I would rule on it.I appreciate that you and iserith regard this stuff as highly contextual - I think you're right to do so. But I was still curious about examples. Partly because I'm having a hard time imagining any myself that would fit within the constraints you've established. In the real world, the way that people use their musculature to jump far is by limbering up their muscles, taking a measured run up and giving it all they've got. Particularly outside the context of a professional athlete on specially prepared surfaces, this can produce variable results depending on placement at the time of launch, vagaries of terrain at the launch point, whether they notice a jaybird sitting on a tree branch as they're about to take off, etc. But you seem to have ruled that out, on the grounds that the rules on p 64 already take all that into account. Which is why I'm having trouble seeing where you see the scope for the rules on p 59 to do their job - that is, for it to (i) uncertain whether someone can clear a distance by jumping, a...
  • 02:02 AM - pemerton mentioned iserith in post Missing Rules
    In order to jump unusually far, the character needs an unusually effective means of jumping.I am curious as to what you (or iserith) would regard as an unusually effective means of jumping which nevertheless requires a check rather than just making success automatic (as a magical solution like Jump or Boots would do; or as a ramp or similar height advantage would seem to do). Upthread, taking a level of exhaustion was mentioned. But apart from anything else, that doesn't seem to fit with the idea that the character is always putting in his/her best effort.

Monday, 20th August, 2018

  • 03:39 AM - Maxperson mentioned iserith in post Missing Rules
    ...es. She says, "Can I use my Athletics skill proficiency to try and make the jump." In this case, the DM says, "Yes." (because the DM saying yes is almost always better than saying no). If the play fails the roll, the DM says, "Bob steels himself, takes a breath and runs for it. When his fingertips scrape on the opposite ledge before Bob plummets into unending darkness..." Alternatively if Bob succeeds on the roll, the DM says, "As Bob goes to make the jump, he finds a boulder jutting out from this edge of the chasm and using it as a launching point Bob is able to get a couple extra feet and land safely on the other side." There are almost always reasons why a PC's player is trying to make every jump. Jumps rarely happen for fun and without some consequence for failure. Players are going to have their PCs try for extra distance every single time. There will be nothing unusual about going for extra distance. In my case, I would not say yes, as there is nothing to say yes to. Like @iserith, I would ask HOW the PC is going to gain that extra distance, and taking a deep breath isn't going to cut it. Some players will automatically do what you are talking about, coming up with ideas and details all the time. Many will not, That's why I prompt it with a question about how they are going to do it.


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Saturday, 22nd September, 2018

  • 09:42 AM - pemerton quoted iserith in post Burning Questions: What's the Worst Thing a DM Can Do?
    I would say this depends on how the scene was framed and when the drow tries to ambush the PCs. If the drow is, say, within short range with a hand crossbow when the PCs enter the area, the DM might describe the attack from the lurking drow and ask "What do you do?" Then we're probably determining surprise using the passive Perception scores of the PCs who opted to remain alert for danger and then rolling initiative. If instead the drow is outside of hand crossbow range when the PCs enter the area, then the DM might have the drow wait in the darkness as they draw near. A player who at some point in the ensuing exploration challenge describes the character as looking closely at the columns for lurking threats might make a Wisdom (Perception) check to spot the hiding drow if there's an uncertain outcome and a meaningful consequence of failure. In this specific context, I think this would not be unlike a Search action in combat. The characters that are engaging in other tasks while the other PC i...
  • 04:07 AM - pemerton quoted iserith in post Burning Questions: What's the Worst Thing a DM Can Do?
    Yes, it's a passive check which is used to determine surprise per the rules.For clarity's sake - if the GM describes the columned room, and a player says "I hope there's nothing lurking behind the columns - I'm looking closely!", would you call for a WIS/Perception check at that point, or still rely on the passive check?

Friday, 21st September, 2018

  • 10:15 PM - Benji quoted iserith in post Burning Questions: What's the Worst Thing a DM Can Do?
    I would indeed run it as (b). It's no concern of mine per se that the drow assassin has a pretty good chance of surprising the PCs; however, I will have telegraphed this possibility at some point prior to this scene. (I'm pretty diligent about this.) The choice the players made to Keep Watch instead of, say, Draw a Map (which is worth gold in my games) or Track (which allows them to increase or decrease their chances of a wandering monster encounter), may be indicative of why the PCs are all Keeping Watch in this example. In this, you've cleared up the last bit of my understanding on your viewpoint. I can now see not only see how you run a game but also why you do it that way. It's been a really interesting discussion and while it might not change the way I choose to DM, it has totally justified your standpoint and meant my opinion of your opinions will be regarded more highly in the future so thank you for taking the time to clarify. Yes, it's a passive check which is used to determine ...
  • 06:40 PM - Reynard quoted iserith in post Mearls On D&D's Design Premises/Goals
    Neat. Also my first character, also in the context of an old keep. It was the example dungeon in the Metzner Basic set. The first level was completely mapped and filled, the lower level was just mapped and the DM was supposed to fill it, and the rumored 3rd level was left up entirely to the DM. Best teaching set ever.
  • 06:33 PM - Reynard quoted iserith in post Mearls On D&D's Design Premises/Goals
    It was a carrion crawler in my case. *shakes fist* Ten years old. First character. Carrior crawler beneath the rotting gate of the old keep. The DM: my dad. THAT's uphill both ways, kids.
  • 09:00 AM - pemerton quoted iserith in post Burning Questions: What's the Worst Thing a DM Can Do?
    I've found this discussion/debate about the role of Perception and similar checks quite interesting. As I understand it, iserith treats it all as an issue of GM framing - it is the GM's job to establish the scene ("describe the environment" is the term used in the Basic Rules, but I think the GM can reasonably add in other stuff too, even in 5e, eg after a particular bit of action has been resolved the GM might narrate "You've outrun the imperial guards and are back at the castle, panting and sweaty. What's next?") If the GM wants the scene to include the PC's noticing missing gauntlest, then s/he incorporates this in his/her framing. Otherwise s/he doesn't - but if the players want to mention that they look around the castle for strange stuff that might give clues to whatever-it-is-that-matters, then they're free to do so and the GM might tell them some stuff, or call for a check, as seems appropriate depending on the details: how you describe the environment is entirely up to you as DM. <snip> Again, you describe the environment how you want - you're the DM! You don't need dice for permission on h...
  • 05:52 AM - eayres33 quoted iserith in post Burning Questions: What's the Worst Thing a DM Can Do?
    I addressed determining surprise upthread. In D&D 5e, passive Perception applies only when the character is Keeping Watch, so this is necessarily something the player must declare at some point prior to the passive check. It cannot be assumed since there are other activities the player could choose to do that does not allow for the character to Keep Watch. (Rangers in favored terrain have a nice benefit here in that they can Keep Watch and perform another task.) Now, not a lot of DMs do this, which I think is unfortunate, but that's the rules. As for the your river example, yes, I have the right to describe what I want to do. That's also the rules. You don't get to tell me I'm swimming against the current or whatever by asking for an Athletics check. I may want to cast water walk instead. So please just describe the environment, then ask me what I want to do. If I do something that draws upon Strength and/or Athletics that has an uncertain outcome and a meaningful consequences of failure, the...
  • 05:49 AM - eayres33 quoted iserith in post Burning Questions: What's the Worst Thing a DM Can Do?
    That raises the question of why the player was searching for a trap when a discharged trap was already apparent when the DM described the environment. Unless the DM didn't describe it in the environment. Which raises the question of why he or she didn't. There's just a lot going on here that is not being presented or adjudicated well in my view It would just leave me annoyed, not guessing. I didn't say I was trying to recall lore about the discharged trap. I (if I'm playing the role of the player in your example) said I was searching for traps. Again, for some reason that is unclear given that you implied the discharged trap was found fairly easily. There is no call for a History check in my view (based on what I understand of the rules) unless the player says he or she is trying to recall lore about some aspect of the discharged trap, and that action has an uncertain outcome and a meaningful consequence of failure. I've otherwise laid out how I think this example is best presented and ...
  • 05:35 AM - eayres33 quoted iserith in post Burning Questions: What's the Worst Thing a DM Can Do?
    I'd rather the characters die. We chose to fight and/or chose to continue fighting when things looked dire. That's how it goes sometimes. But you are aware that this may not be the most popular option? I actually agree, I would rather have my character die, but the players I GM for would not.
  • 01:16 AM - Greenstone.Walker quoted iserith in post What DM flaw has caused you to actually leave a game?
    Is the DM just not running surprise correctly? Correct. He is using an surprise round, where the monsters get an attack on us and then we roll initiative. I think its a 4E thing, but I only ever played that edition for 1 hour.

Thursday, 20th September, 2018

  • 11:27 PM - billd91 quoted iserith in post What DM flaw has caused you to actually leave a game?
    One thing I do is just ask for the ability check and the player applies whatever skill proficiency he or she thinks appropriate to the approach that was attempted. The rules say it's appropriate for the player to ask if a skill proficiency applies but I prefer to skip that step because I expect good faith play from my players. This method makes it a bit easier on the DM and avoids any misunderstandings as to what the player was driving at with his or her action declaration. I do something similar. In 5e, remembering the 6 stats is easy enough, then I just ask: Me: "You got a proficiency you think might apply?" Player: "I got history and religion." Me: "History applies."
  • 09:26 PM - Celebrim quoted iserith in post What DM flaw has caused you to actually leave a game?
    Haha! :) Yes, I noticed that too late. I'm told that I'm a pretty consistent as a DM. Which I'm happy about because that's a trait I value. Obviously. I suppose that depends on your definition of "railroad," which I find many in the RPG community define too broadly. I defined it pretty exactly I think in the essay you didn't read, albeit I've never attempted to move from the Aristotelian definition I offered to a more Socratic one. But, loosely speaking, railroading is a collection of processes of play that a GM can utilize to ensure a predetermined outcome to a scenario that the GM desires. A "railroad" is a game that features those processes of play so saliently, that it becomes a defining attribute of play. One particular process of play that can be used to railroad is the "handwave" which is when the GM removes the opportunity for fortune rolls from a scene that has meaningful consequence, or removes the opportunity for choice when a meaningful proposition could be m...
  • 08:19 PM - Celebrim quoted iserith in post What DM flaw has caused you to actually leave a game?
    I'm not sure how you come away with this from my post. So let me be more clear: If a player is indicating a desire to go from one place to another in the city, I'm going to ask what the character does along the way. If the player establishes that the character is doing anything that distracts from being vigilant, then he or she has no chance of noticing the pickpocket. Well, in a strange way, I continue to be impressed. You continue to be very coherent with your process of play, following it consistently and unswervingly to its logical conclusions. I can't fault the rigor of your thinking. But on the other hand, you've laid down an ultimatum regarding your minimum standards of play, that as best as I can guess would drive every single player I've had in 30 years of gaming from my table. Far from actually increasing player agency, the declaration that no ability check can be imposed on a player - which you originally defended on the grounds a DM that imposed one was playing the PC - i...
  • 07:57 PM - MNblockhead quoted iserith in post What DM flaw has caused you to actually leave a game?
    What... what happened? I'm picturing this.
  • 07:57 PM - Nagol quoted iserith in post Burning Questions: What's the Worst Thing a DM Can Do?
    Unless I'm missing something about the context of the discussion, I don't think your approach is in conflict with the goals of play outlined in the D&D Basic Rules (page 2) part of which smbakeresq cited. The DMG goes on to add that the DM is "impartial yet involved" with regard to everyone playing by the rules, is in the "referee role," and as such "acts as a mediator between the rules and the players." In some cases, "mediating the rules means setting limits." If you are pursuing the goals of play as DM (which is how you aim at "winning" D&D), you're likely making choices that are fun for everyone at the table (which may include presenting challenges of significant difficulty) and creating an exciting, memorable story during play (which is emergent, based on the DM's and players' choices plus mechanical resolution). If you're making such choices, then arguably you're not "neutral" as smbakeresq suggests, but then I suppose that depends on how you define "neutral." I take no care in "c...
  • 07:47 PM - cmad1977 quoted iserith in post What DM flaw has caused you to actually leave a game?
    What... what happened? Nothing.
  • 05:54 PM - MNblockhead quoted iserith in post Burning Questions: What's the Worst Thing a DM Can Do?
    Haha, no. I've seen plenty of games like that though. Most people who play in my games, both regular and pickup players in one-shots marvel at how fast we go. We cover A LOT of content in one session. When I was posting my transcripts of an entirely text-based Roll20 game a couple years ago on WotC forums, people were reporting that we got through more content in a 2-hour session than they did in in-person sessions that were twice as long. Which was... shocking. Yeah, I believe it. I don't understand how folks are coming to the conclusion that a consistent play loop where the DM decides to describe the scene and decides when a roll is necessary means getting lost in the weeds of minutiae. In my experience, take the time to think a bit deeper about rules, especially the play loop, makes it easier to be consistent, which in turn help you move along quickly in the game. You can start to focus more on engaging descriptions and listing to the players and the players will fall into the flow of t...
  • 05:28 PM - smbakeresq quoted iserith in post Burning Questions: What's the Worst Thing a DM Can Do?
    I don't think anyone who has played with me would say that though. I'm strict on "How to Play." Because, well, that's how to play and that's good for both the DM and the players since they each clearly know what to do for their particular roles and can focus on being the best they can be in that role (which improves the play experience for all). As for the rules, as I think I said in this thread or the other very similar one, the rules are used at the discretion of the DM. By that I mean the DM only brings the rules into play when they need to come into play. But when they do come into play, I strive to follow them. What players in my games would say (and have said, even recently) is that my games are very consistent. The play loop (DM describes, player describes, DM narrates) is always there. You're always making reasonably informed decisions. You can always count on consistent rulings and, when the rules are brought into play, pretty good accuracy on implementation (I'm not perfect and freq...
  • 05:13 PM - Blue quoted iserith in post What DM flaw has caused you to actually leave a game?
    Let's not lose the thread here: My objection is in asking for an ability check before I describe what I want to do, not to simply describing the environment without an unprompted ability check. The rules lay out what describing the environment is all about - where the adventurers are, what's around them (which I would reasonably say includes 50-foot-tall letters that spell something out), and presenting the basic scope of options that present themselves - and when the DM may ask for an ability check. I would say the possibility of pickpockets needs to be telegraphed in the description of the environment (either before or during the scene) in order for the player to make a meaningful decision about it and for the challenge to be fair. After witnessing larcenies in other scenes or being informed by an NPC that the City of Thieves is no place for the unwary, a canny player might say he or she is keeping watch for hidden dangers while traveling the city in which case the DM can use a passive Perc...
  • 03:06 PM - Nagol quoted iserith in post What DM flaw has caused you to actually leave a game?
    Such is the issue with examples lacking the additional context available at the table. The example under discussion implies there is enough context for the player to believe the the statue is religious in nature, hence the mention of having the Religion skill proficiency. (Perhaps they are in a ruined temple.) Presumably the DM would be aware of the same context, having read or designed the adventure. The DM's brain won't be so taxed as a result. :) Right I got that. The group has a similar context at the table when the player begins to talk. Although the DM understands the group context, the DM doesn't know the context of the player's thoughts. Perhaps the player plans on drawing the statue and seeking outside expertise. Perhaps the player plans on defacing the statue. Perhaps the player plans on leaving marks to ease navigation. Perhaps the players wants to add graffiti. Perhaps the player wants to add the symbol of his worship. When the acolyte background is mentioned it may poss...


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