View Profile: Kit Hartsough - Morrus' Unofficial Tabletop RPG News
  • iserith's Avatar
    Today, 06:00 PM
    iserith replied to Double Dash
    For what it's worth, the rules also specifically call out a character's or monster's speed as being "short bursts of energetic movement in the midst of a life-threatening situation."
    46 replies | 1020 view(s)
    1 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Today, 03:14 PM
    You're right and it drives me crazy when I turn up in a game where a DM rolls individual initiative for monsters. Though it's still the same amount of actions to resolve, it really does slow things down because the initiative rolling takes longer and then, if those monsters are interspersed with PCs or other monsters, there's a "gear-changing" that eats up additional time. It really adds up!
    13 replies | 419 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Today, 02:53 PM
    The RAW is that like creatures share initiative anyway. It's still 10 creatures on one initiative count, but it's not like you're rolling 10 different initiatives for them, if that's a concern. As for your swarm, it seems a sound idea, but someone better at math than me will have to say if it has parity with the spell as written. But anyway, players have an obligation to pursue the goals of...
    13 replies | 419 view(s)
    1 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Today, 02:36 PM
    What Hriston said - most monsters' stuff is just junk. There are some exceptions that I will make an effort to describe, such as a hobgoblin in plate armor or the like. Sometimes I'll describe something resplendent a monster wears that would be damaged in combat and made less valuable in order to set up a challenge for the players to take out the monster without damaging their loot. It makes them...
    20 replies | 542 view(s)
    1 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Today, 06:27 AM
    That's basically what my players do. They police themselves for speed and that includes just keeping them on a single target. It's not really about banning the spell BlivetWidget. It's just players realizing that it can slow down play and taking reasonable steps to mitigate that.
    13 replies | 419 view(s)
    1 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Yesterday, 11:13 PM
    The mob rules worked fine, but also working in my favor is that the table rule is that if you're the sort of player who can't manage this sort of spell without bogging down the turn, you simply don't cast it. The player has a responsibility here in my view. (Same for summons, pets, etc.)
    13 replies | 419 view(s)
    1 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Yesterday, 09:20 PM
    iserith replied to Double Dash
    Yes on the double-dash. There tends to be a LOT of movement in my games due to terrain, so it comes up quite a bit.
    46 replies | 1020 view(s)
    2 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Yesterday, 07:41 PM
    You can resolve by applying the mob rules in the DMG (pg. 250) which foregoes any attack rolls, saving time. Then use average damage.
    13 replies | 419 view(s)
    2 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Yesterday, 03:15 PM
    It doesn't matter if you keep track, really. The PCs should be counterspelling everything anyway.
    13 replies | 544 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 11th July, 2019, 06:23 PM
    iserith replied to Languages
    The DMG also has a section on languages in the campaign world planning section that basically tells the DM to figure this out on his or her own according to the kind of setting he or she wants to present.
    9 replies | 363 view(s)
    1 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Wednesday, 10th July, 2019, 05:40 PM
    It seems to me all that really matters is whether the player thinks it's fun. If he or she does, carry on, I say. If not, then you can either jointly tinker with the rules to make it less certain, create conditions in the game that accomplish the same effect without tinkering with the rules, or the player can just choose not to have the character hide all the time.
    104 replies | 2845 view(s)
    0 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Tuesday, 9th July, 2019, 09:25 PM
    iserith replied to OSR Gripes
    I played Lamentations of the Flame Princess which is one of these old school D&D-esque games. I lost 5 characters in one session. No exaggeration. That's just how it goes.
    231 replies | 7647 view(s)
    2 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Tuesday, 9th July, 2019, 08:55 PM
    No insult is intended. Certain of your specific objections seem rooted in issues of spotlight management and other issues that are not the fault of the game. I make no judgment as to what you should or shouldn't do in your own game, only that some of your objections are easily solved without modifying the rules.
    104 replies | 2845 view(s)
    0 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Tuesday, 9th July, 2019, 07:54 PM
    Like I said, house rules are fine. Personally, I don't actually care how the player makes the decision in the face of the NPC's attempt to persuade (to continue with that example), but I'm not calling for a roll here as DM. That breaks the rule of players determining what their characters do. The player is free to roll a die to figure out what the character does if he or she wants. Or flip a...
    104 replies | 2845 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Tuesday, 9th July, 2019, 07:27 PM
    Magic is the difference. House rules are fine, but the issue in this situation for me is that the players always determine how their characters think and what they do and say. That means there is never uncertainty as to the outcome of the NPC's attempt to persuade and thus no ability check. The outcome is whatever the player says it is. I might, in some circumstances.
    104 replies | 2845 view(s)
    0 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Tuesday, 9th July, 2019, 07:12 PM
    iserith replied to Languages
    There is no call-out in the rules for dialects other than Primordial. So as far as I am concerned, PCs that speak Common can't speak Undercommon, nor can creatures that speak Undercommon speak Common. Personally, I prefer it that way as it gives choice of language relevance and sets the PCs up for needing resources such as spells or NPCs to assist with communication. It's another problem for the...
    9 replies | 363 view(s)
    4 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Tuesday, 9th July, 2019, 04:58 PM
    I use it and it works well enough. For those unfamiliar with it, it basically splits the challenge into what I call "The 'Tude," "The Chat," and "The Ask." In "The 'Tude," the DM frames the NPC's disposition toward the PCs and establishes the context of the challenge (what's at stake). This is also when players might try to have their characters recall lore about the NPC to garner useful...
    104 replies | 2845 view(s)
    0 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Tuesday, 9th July, 2019, 02:04 PM
    I think they're okay for D&D standards. But almost nobody uses them in my experience because I don't think many DMs actually read the DMG. The rogue isn't being skipped and it isn't really planned though - at least no more than combat where everyone gets a turn. If that doesn't bother you (does it?), why should what amounts to taking turns in a social interaction challenge be bothersome?...
    104 replies | 2845 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Tuesday, 9th July, 2019, 05:46 AM
    It just sounds to me like the argument is not so much "Expertise is problematic..." but "Expertise is problematic when I chop away two of the three pillars underpinning the game and things get wobbly." Which doesn't so much sound like a problem with Expertise per se, but the choices the DM has made. I think we agree here? Also there does seem to be an underlying assumption in your post that...
    104 replies | 2845 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Tuesday, 9th July, 2019, 05:19 AM
    Really that just argues for the DM to balance the pillars of the game as much as he or she can in my view and to incentivize play to that end via XP and treasure. If the DM is leaning too heavily on any one pillar or incentivizing particular play to the exclusion of others, it's reasonable behavior for players to create and advance characters with particular skill proficiencies and other features...
    104 replies | 2845 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Tuesday, 9th July, 2019, 05:09 AM
    "Party balance" in what sense? Why is it bad that this character can do a thing well and others can't? Wouldn't it be the case that this expert won't be able to do other things as well in this or the other two pillars? Also, how is "deception in the hands of a creative player" troublesome? Setting aside that the DM decides whether there is a roll or not in the first place, what's the actual...
    104 replies | 2845 view(s)
    0 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Tuesday, 9th July, 2019, 05:05 AM
    I'm not really "going" anywhere, only checking to see if there's a rough correlation between people who have some kind of issue with the ability check system and playing the game in the very common way I described upthread wherein the players ask to make or declare they are making ability checks. Without taking anything away from your perception of the problem you outline above, could you...
    43 replies | 1338 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Tuesday, 9th July, 2019, 04:53 AM
    Why do you think that is a problem?
    104 replies | 2845 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Tuesday, 9th July, 2019, 04:48 AM
    As opposed to the DM deciding whether there is a roll at all, then what ability check to make and any skill proficiency that applies (per the rules). And in this case I'm not referring to a paradigm where the DM can decide a player-proposed roll is not necessary (e.g. Player: "Can I make an Investigation check to..." DM: "Nah, you just figure it out...").
    43 replies | 1338 view(s)
    1 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Tuesday, 9th July, 2019, 04:42 AM
    Out of curiosity, if you have a problem with expertise, do you also play the game such that players ask to make or declare they are making ability checks?
    43 replies | 1338 view(s)
    0 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Monday, 8th July, 2019, 11:24 PM
    In a practical sense, this means that the rogue will almost always surprise monsters (unless he's traveling with other, less stealthy people) and will almost always have advantage on the attack roll if there's a place to hide in combat. If the rogue is on his or her own, it will also mean that scouting around without being detected will almost always succeed. Personally, if a rogue tries to...
    104 replies | 2845 view(s)
    0 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Monday, 8th July, 2019, 08:52 PM
    It works. My entire game is run like that, almost as a one-on-one between myself and one other player (when they're not talking among themselves) for a minute before switching to someone else. If a combat ends without finishing the round, I'll mentally stick to initiative order and call on the people who haven't gone that round to kick off whatever activity is next so that they aren't shorted on...
    31 replies | 1302 view(s)
    4 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Monday, 8th July, 2019, 04:32 PM
    How long are people taking on their turns? One thing I've noticed at other tables is that players are planning what to do on their turn instead of acting, which is a huge no-no at my table. Your turn is for acting, not for planning or stalling by asking 20 Questions (another common player tactic when they haven't planned off-turn). I think a turn is 30 seconds or less, ideally, which means your...
    31 replies | 1302 view(s)
    2 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Monday, 8th July, 2019, 03:20 PM
    First, ask for them to pay attention, then ask them what about the game isn't holding their attention. From your own observation, what parts of the game are they tuning out on? What can you do to minimize those parts of the game or make them more interesting?
    31 replies | 1302 view(s)
    6 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Wednesday, 3rd July, 2019, 06:08 PM
    Yes, that's technically a choice.
    50 replies | 1879 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Wednesday, 3rd July, 2019, 04:54 PM
    I think what gets left off in the last few assertions that are floating about is that, in a game where the DM isn't concerned with any particular conclusion so long as it's fun, exciting, and memorable (even if it's bad for the characters), then said DM isn't also putting them into situations where they have no chance of success. In such games, the players choose to get themselves into those...
    50 replies | 1879 view(s)
    3 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Tuesday, 2nd July, 2019, 05:01 PM
    Can they take short rests? If so, they should be able to do 6 to 8 medium or hard challenges with a couple of short rests. If the villain challenge is deadly, then reduce the number of preceding encounters accordingly, perhaps setting it to 4 to 6 medium or hard challenges followed by a deadly encounter. If the players are experienced, this seems doable.
    50 replies | 1879 view(s)
    0 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Tuesday, 2nd July, 2019, 04:24 PM
    Make clear the risks and trade-offs inherent in the challenge, then let the players make their own decisions. Err on the side of giving "too much" information rather than too little. Use whatever contrivances you can think of to impart that info in a way that makes sense in context. Perhaps a grizzled veteran adventurer faced such a challenge before and made the mistake of doing battle with the...
    50 replies | 1879 view(s)
    0 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Tuesday, 2nd July, 2019, 02:52 PM
    Time is an important resource in my adventures. It's yours to waste, but much like wasting hit points or spells, there may be consequences. In many cases, the longer you give the villain to prepare or complete his or her goals, the harder things get. To some extent, that may be desirable from the player's perspective as it potentially means more XP, but that must be weighed against the likelihood...
    50 replies | 1879 view(s)
    0 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Tuesday, 2nd July, 2019, 01:04 AM
    It's not that it's complicated - it's just that it's more transactions per turn or round which necessarily takes longer than just the one, even with very capable players. Turn after turn, combat after combat, it adds up. An important part of DMing in my view is sharing the spotlight, that is, making sure that the PCs have more or less the same time in the spotlight over the course of the session....
    22 replies | 915 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Tuesday, 2nd July, 2019, 12:36 AM
    I think the biggest concern above all is: How much are your minions going to bog down the game? Because, frankly, they will, at least to some degree. In a game like mine which runs fast, it's very noticeable. When a player in my game wanted to play a necromancer, he had the good sense to ask me for my opinion on how many undead he could have at one time. I told him "When the game slows down...
    22 replies | 915 view(s)
    2 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Sunday, 30th June, 2019, 06:07 PM
    XGtE has a section on awarding magic items over the course of a campaign. There's a sidebar in that section that reveals the expected number of Treasure Hoards the PCs will uncover. You could perhaps base Individual Treasure rolls on those numbers, either following them exactly or by multiplying by some factor then seeding them among your NPCs and monsters. There are a number of random...
    18 replies | 874 view(s)
    0 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Friday, 28th June, 2019, 07:31 PM
    I don't even understand the objection that is being voiced. The play loop and adjudication process is for all and sundry to see right there in the rules of the game. It's not like we made it up. If there's an objection to it, take it up with Wizards of the Coast, I guess.
    178 replies | 5539 view(s)
    2 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 27th June, 2019, 11:23 PM
    The determination of whether a task has an uncertain outcome and the meaningful consequence of failure, which precedes the introduction and use of the game mechanics (ability checks, attack rolls, saving throws, etc.), is DM fiat which is enshrined in the rules via the play loop and adjudication process. Fiat is inescapable in this rules system. It is the first resort.
    178 replies | 5539 view(s)
    0 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 27th June, 2019, 07:35 PM
    Change "should" to "could" and I think you got it.
    178 replies | 5539 view(s)
    1 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 27th June, 2019, 05:38 PM
    I just say when a target has cover and what kind and the player says "Okay" and acts accordingly. I do my best to make that apparent well before the attack is declared by working it into my description of the environment. That way, there's no surprises.
    28 replies | 1072 view(s)
    5 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 27th June, 2019, 05:18 PM
    As I mentioned upthread, many DMs in my experience jump to the mechanics before they give much consideration to the play loop and adjudication process which comes first. If someone draws a blade - initiative! If someone tells a lie - deception! But this is skipping an important part of the DM's role and, frankly, it shows in their resulting play experience.
    178 replies | 5539 view(s)
    0 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 27th June, 2019, 04:19 PM
    Right. That section specifically says the play loop applies to all situations in D&D 5e and does call out combat as being a bit more structured but otherwise follows the same pattern. See also DMG page 237 wherein the specific process the DM follows to determine if some kind of roll is appropriate is laid out. That being, the task's outcome has to fall somewhere between impossible and...
    178 replies | 5539 view(s)
    1 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 27th June, 2019, 02:23 PM
    Harzel: What Ovinomancer said.
    178 replies | 5539 view(s)
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  • iserith's Avatar
    Thursday, 27th June, 2019, 06:53 AM
    I don't have experience with public games, but I have run a lot of pickup games with random players on Roll20. As well, my regular group and some other groups in which I play each have a pool of players they use to fill five seats per session. This is actually a very good setup because it means fewer scheduling hassles. If the DM can run the game, there's enough players in the pool to fill out at...
    11 replies | 462 view(s)
    0 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Wednesday, 26th June, 2019, 06:36 PM
    On the lava bit, the "improvising damage" rules in the DMG pegs "wading through a lava stream" as 10d10 damage and "being submerged in lava" as 18d10 damage. The latter seems appropriate for a fall into a lava pit.
    178 replies | 5539 view(s)
    2 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Wednesday, 26th June, 2019, 06:32 PM
    You won't ever catch me making a realism argument in D&D of any edition. What I will argue is that it's the DM's call on what mechanic to use to resolve uncertainty as to the outcome and I can make the case for either ability checks or attack rolls here (and have). While it's reasonable behavior in my opinion for players to treat a DM's ruling as precedent, I think it's a simple matter to point...
    178 replies | 5539 view(s)
    3 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Wednesday, 26th June, 2019, 05:46 PM
    I think fairness and consistency in the application of the rules is an important goal for the DM. That said, I think arguments about parity of their application between PCs and NPCs being paramount is legacy thinking that hasn't held water since D&D 3.Xe. So unless you're talking about that edition specifically, I can't take seriously any such argument for D&D 4e or D&D 5e.
    178 replies | 5539 view(s)
    1 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Wednesday, 26th June, 2019, 03:29 PM
    I'm not entirely sure what you mean here and I'm taking a stab at it, so please let me know if what I say below doesn't follow and I'll amend. I think that roleplaying is just playing a role by determining what the character does, thinks, and says, as per the rules regarding the same. But in the process of that roleplaying, the player has a responsibility in the game itself to describe what he...
    63 replies | 2026 view(s)
    1 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Wednesday, 26th June, 2019, 01:30 AM
    There are a few ways to do this that I think all work fine. The DM can rule the outcome of the task as impossible or at least highly unlikely. The ranger simply can't do enough damage in one shot to take out the orc except on a crit and even that's no guarantee. But perhaps the other PCs can add to that damage and take it out. If they can't, they learn a valuable lesson about taking some kind...
    178 replies | 5539 view(s)
    3 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Wednesday, 26th June, 2019, 12:18 AM
    Though there may be exceptions from time to time that I will telegraph accordingly, a PC noble will generally be welcome in high society, get special treatment by common folk, and secure an audience in my games.
    6 replies | 370 view(s)
    2 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Tuesday, 25th June, 2019, 06:36 PM
    Agreed. Arriving at an answer requires adding assumptions to both the context of the situation and the player's action declaration which are outside the scope of the original post. I think what a lot of DMs do in play is they jump to the mechanics before considering the situation and the character's efforts in relation to that situation and, based on that, whether the mechanics are even needed to...
    63 replies | 2026 view(s)
    3 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Tuesday, 25th June, 2019, 04:58 PM
    iserith replied to Last Stand
    My grappling bard luchador "Immovable Rod" Manleigh was battling a horde of monsters with his party when the retreat was sounded. Most of the other characters were low on resources and couldn't withstand another solid blow so they started falling back, one by one, leaving Rod to hold off the tide of violence coming their way. "Immovable Rod" Manleigh knew this was the end and his noble...
    7 replies | 464 view(s)
    2 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Tuesday, 25th June, 2019, 03:53 PM
    Right, these are two different approaches to achieve the same goal and both can be described by the players as they say what they want to do which makes it easier for the DM to determine whether there's an ability check and which ability and skill proficiency applies. Neither of these approaches is the "one true solution" in a way that promotes the "pixel bitching" that some posters insist is...
    63 replies | 2026 view(s)
    2 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Tuesday, 25th June, 2019, 12:39 AM
    As a DM, I'd expect them to make an action declaration that minimizes the amount of assumptions the DM has to make to adjudicate to a result. I don't have a particular solution in mind or magic words the player has to say in my notes. But I'm going to need more than "I look at them closely..." All that suggests to me as DM is that it's probably a Wisdom check, assuming there's a check at all,...
    63 replies | 2026 view(s)
    1 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Monday, 24th June, 2019, 10:32 PM
    While it's commonly put forward as a "major problem with the 'goal and approach' way," precise knowledge of how to perform the task isn't and has never been required of players to state an approach to the goal, at least at my table. I definitely need something more than what's been offered in this example to even determine if a check is needed, leave alone what ability score and skill proficiency...
    63 replies | 2026 view(s)
    1 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Monday, 24th June, 2019, 09:37 PM
    What I see here are goals (what the PC hopes to achieve) but not approaches (how the PC tries to achieve the goal). The approaches will determine the uncertainty as to the outcome, whether there's a meaningful consequence for failure and, if both of those elements are present, what ability check and skill proficiency is called for and the DC for the roll. So my vote is "DM needs more...
    63 replies | 2026 view(s)
    5 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Monday, 24th June, 2019, 08:22 PM
    Unless it was a mapped out tactical challenge with grid and minis including elevation, I wouldn't go this complicated with it.
    34 replies | 1430 view(s)
    2 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Monday, 24th June, 2019, 06:22 PM
    "Parkour" could be imagined as an overarching challenge that is divided into specific obstacles, the declared tasks for which may or may not call for ability checks as per the normal rules for adjudicating actions. Strength (Athletics) checks covers "difficult situations you encounter while climbing, jumping..." (Basic Rules, p. 62). Dexterity (Acrobatics) covers attempts to "stay on your feet in...
    34 replies | 1430 view(s)
    2 XP
  • iserith's Avatar
    Friday, 21st June, 2019, 06:33 PM
    I agree. That is just bad adventure design and you'd think professional adventure writers would realize that by now. Sometimes things that happen in the movies just can't easily be replicated at the table. Be happy when it does, but plan that it won't.
    59 replies | 2542 view(s)
    0 XP
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