D&D 5E Randomness and D&D

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
I'm sympathetic to this point of view. To my mind, the major issue with adventure paths is that they presume that the PCs are reactive in what they do, rather than proactive. It's never about achieving personal goals and ambitions, it's about stopping some looming threat to the region/world/multiverse, which can absolutely be interesting and dramatic, but tends to be one-size-fits-all in terms of motivation, since no one wants their home to be devastated.
That seems true, from what I've seen. Though at least some of them (one of my groups is close to finishing Rime of the Frostmaiden, for example) include a sandboxy portion, where the PCs can wander around and take on different parts that strike their interest, at least in whatever order they like. I seem to remember it being a thing that we missed out on meeting one NPC who had been killed by the time we got around to following up on a particular rumor...
 

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billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
I'm sympathetic to this point of view. To my mind, the major issue with adventure paths is that they presume that the PCs are reactive in what they do, rather than proactive. It's never about achieving personal goals and ambitions, it's about stopping some looming threat to the region/world/multiverse, which can absolutely be interesting and dramatic, but tends to be one-size-fits-all in terms of motivation, since no one wants their home to be devastated.
I can see that. APs work best for the players who want to feel the call to action or respond best to a call to heroism rather than build a personal agenda from within themselves. There's definitely a style of player difference that you can see there.
 

Andvari

Hero
Not a fan. Gage Infernus, the Great Harvest, whose prowess with his horrifying scythe is the heart of his legend... should not be reduced to using a dopey cavalry saber because the dice said so.
He's free to hand over the Saber of Whirling Death to a real fighter who has achieved mastery of all weapons. (Who also has to wonder what dice have to do with the weapon found in the dragon's hoard)
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Incidentally also why I'm not a fan of weapon specialization. If the fighter finds a weapon, I want him to be able to pick it up and use it effectively whether it's an axe, a sword or a bec-de-corbin.

Not a fan. Gage Infernus, the Great Harvest, whose prowess with his horrifying scythe is the heart of his legend... should not be reduced to using a dopey cavalry saber because the dice said so.
I'm of two minds about this. I'd very much LIKE characters to be able to use and be (if the player chooses) in part defined by their signature weapon, but I also want a Fighter to be able to competently use whatever they find, and not be hobbled when they're deprived of their signature weapon.

In my current Old School 5TD game there's no specialization, and the best Warriors we've seen have used the best weapons they've found. The highest level one currently, Graves, has spent most of the campaign wielding an arming sword and shield, mostly wanting the protection of that shield. For quite a while he used the Axe of the Vexx as his main weapon, a +1 Waraxe which could be commanded to release a cloud of poisonous fumes around the bearer; potentially very deadly against a horde of foes, but tough to use when friends were nearby. It was shattered in a dungeon being used to hew apart a magical statue, and now he bears the Sword of Sleep, an arming sword +1/+3 vs Undead, which glows and illuminates a 15' radius when unsheathed and held with blade exposed, but brightens to 30' radius when in Line of Sight of an undead creature. As well as the Shield of Charging, which grants him an additional shield bash attack whenever he's got at least 10' of run-up to engage a foe.

Some months ago, however, he defeated an orc chieftan and claimed as prize the Chaos Blade, a terrible two handed sword +2 that strikes for 2d8 base damage in addition, and can Sweep attack multiple adjacent foes with each swing. Due to its awesome offensive power he's had a meaningful choice in many battles since whether to maximize his AC or to go to town with the Chaos Blade.

If one of the fighters in my game had a signature weapon I'd definitely be open to him questing for a legendary magical one, or commissioning a master smith or wizard to make him a custom magical version. But there's definitely a charm and joy to fighters being able to find random awesome weapons and make full use of them without a functional penalty because they're not getting their Specialization.
 
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Andvari

Hero
In this case it's where the DM needs to step in. For me, the default is what the adventure has written or what I have generated. But if there's a player whose character's whole "thing" is wielding a scythe, I will work it in. When playing a system where specialization is in the system and players use it, I will also work with it and replace equipment to accomodate their builds.

Randomness is a tool, not a mandate from heaven.

It's also not the players' fault if the system forces them to specialize, so they should not be punished for it.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
For those who really like randomness, here are two goodies.

The Net Libram of Random Magical Effects v2. A d10,000 list of random and wild magical mishaps. Originally written for WFRP.

Winds of Chaos Expanded Critical Hits. Several critical hit charts written by physicians that go into some graphic detail about what massive trauma to particular parts of the body would actually look like. Originally written for WFRP.
The Net Libram kicks all kinds of rear end. The two times I've had Wild Mages at my table I've used it for them rather than the 100-point one in the PHB. Too much fun.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
The Net Libram kicks all kinds of rear end. The two times I've had Wild Mages at my table I've used it for them rather than the 100-point one in the PHB. Too much fun.
My favorites are the non-obvious ones. Things that happen later, off-screen, or you gain an ability you'd never think to test for. Like you randomly turn your house into stone, or you can now eat stones, or the next enemy you hit with a sword turns to stone. So weird and wonderful.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I think there is a gulf between pure random and reasonable chances. Its just as ridiculous to have an 8 hit point wizard in a party with a 2 hit point fighter at level 2
Almost certainly won't happen - that 2 h.p. Fighter only had 1 h.p. all the way through 1st level and if still alive to reach 2nd is the luckiest SOB out there. :)
Though, if some folks love a barely functioning system built just for the laughs, who am I to tell them its wrong?
That "barely functioning system" and its near variants did well enough for 15 years or so. Without it the game, and this forum, wouldn't exist.
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Random magic items, though, I'm not as much a fan of. I remember the days of having specialization in, say a two-handed sword, and ending up with a +1 longsword because of randomness. I'd much rather magic items be curated for the adventurers to a degree.
Not for me. Random is random; and if you choose to spec. in 2-h sword you're gambling that an enchanted one will turn up someday...or that you can commission someone to make you a magic one.

Further, in this type of game there's no way of knowing whether your 2-h sword specialist will live long enough to find it...by the time they get there you might be playing a mace-wielding Cleric.

Lay the adventure out ahead of time without regard for which specific PCs might play in it, and let the chips - and items - fall where they may.
 

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