D&D 4E Running and 4E Demo this weekend, anyone have suggestions?


First Post
Hi. I have been a lurker on these forums for quite a while, this is my first post.

I went into my FLGS this week and grabbed my copy of KotS, talked to the owner about how I ran my girlfriend through a 4E encounter and he asked me if I wanted to run a demo this weekend.

I have GM'd for quite a long time (over 15 years), and have read pretty much all of the posts here and grabbed KotS and the rules you guys have compiled. I think I have a pretty good handle on what 4E is and how to run it. I just wanted to know if you guys think there is anything I should go over more?

Some of you guys have played in the DDXP stuff, which is what I think the store has, are there parts that the DM sucked at. I feel like I am kind of a salesman, I want people to enjoy their experience (most DMs do), and I just wanted to know if there were parts of the rules that maybe tricky to aducate? My only experience is running my girlfriend through an encounter with some kobolds and she played 3 of the Pregens from KotS.

She said it was easy to learn and had a good time, and this was her first experience with D&D, though she's very sharp and we are both WoW players, and I have been DM/GM for my buddies since we were in high school.

Anyway you poster-dudes look cool and helpful and I think I saw a few posts with people saying that their DM sucked and had no clue. If you ran DDXP or DM'd it or ya just have some advice it would be appriciated.


Edit: My Demo is in Houston, TX at Midnight Comics at 3:30 PM Sunday May 25th.

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Yes, I have some vitally important advice.

You must, under any circumstance, regardless of any event, have a load of fun.

This is the most important and serious rule of D&D.

That, and I highly recommend checking out the excellent work people have been doing in the "Make your own power cards" thread :)

That One Guy

First Post
I'm amazed more people didn't reply...

From my one and a half runs of escape from Sembia at a store...
Don't forget that a lot of monsters use recharge mechanics.
Don't forget that enemies are vulnerable to certain attacks.

Those are just based on things that the GM did which resulted in a TPK when I played, and then when a friend played at the store a few weeks later... which prompted a pre-4e game I've been running every Wednesday for about a month. Based on my experiences, chatting with the players to figure out what they want to do in combat separate from who their character is can be beneficial, but I guess you're using the KotS characters, right? (Oh man, don't forget the half-elf's pseudo-multi-class racial) I have not picked up KotS, so I can't give you particular advice on that matter.... but there seems to be a bunch of threads about KotS' merits and flaws so those should be helpful.

Of course, have fun and try to give the PCs a fun game.


First Post
1) Give everyone different tokens for their various effects (fighter marks, paladin challenge-only one, warlock curses, etc).

Don't make this just the same token in different colors. Give them actual different tokens (penny, colored glass, rubber band, etc). I have noticed that the same token in different colors will still causes confusion at the table.

2) Remind everyone about action points. People tend to forget these when they first start playing.

3) If you don't know a rule, just make a ruling that makes sense and write it down so you can look it up later. Or have a player look it up from your quick start rules while the game continues.

4) Know the difference in passive perception versus active perception. Most encounters will start with checks against passive perception (either the PCs roll a stealth to beat the bad guy's passive perception if they're sneaking or the bad guys roll stealth to beat individual PC's passive perceptions).

5) Have some way to effectively track many initiatives. Either index cards for individuals or a dry erase board where everyone can see the order. This is even more important in 4e with large numbers of foes in every encounter.

6) Remember that only 3 things cause Opportunity Attacks: Movement, Ranged Attacks, Area Attacks. Close effects don't trigger OAs.


First Post
A couple of things I have noticed from my demos:

1. Have fun. Seriously. When I am smiling and looking excited, the players respond and are generally more open to learning the rules in a "crash course" setting.

2. Have some props. I made power cards for all of the pregens and my players loved it. It made it easy for them to compare how their actions worked ad let them queue actions. I also printed out monster tokens and put them on poker chips. The right props made them feel like they were in a real game and not just a demo.

3. Properly done skill challenges are a big hit. I added a small skill challenge to the Raiders of Oakhurst adventure. I narrated all of their actions and they were really into it. Most of them said the skill challenge was the best part of 4e.

4. Have a 10 minute piece before the dice come out to run down the character sheets and explain the differences between 3.x and 4e. It doesn't take long, but it is time well spent. I do it lecture style, just hitting each point and having short questions at the end.


Are you running KotS or just a general demo?

Either way:

1) Give some RP scenario. Or at least give characters the illusion of options. Just dumping them in a room with monsters and duking it out fight after fight isn't as fun as the full enchilada.

2) Try to make a habit of saying "yes". Don't force anyone to do anything, and if they have a good idea, reward them.

3) I second props. Especially for marked. I'm using beads for Bloodied, pipe cleaners for marked, etc.

4) If you are using Status Effects (Ongoing damage, stunned, dazed, etc), write a note card with the condition written on it. Tell them that every time they hold a card, they have to make a saving throw (1-9 ongoing, 10-20 it's gone) at the beginning fo their turn for every card they hold. It's a good memory tool.

5) If you're constructing an encounter yourself, try to pick monsters that highlight 4e's combat. Pushing/pulling/knocking down, ongoing damage, lots of movement, unique abilities, etc.


First Post
Rechan said:
2) Try to make a habit of saying "yes". Don't force anyone to do anything, and if they have a good idea, reward them.
Yes, yes... a thousand time, yes.

The biggest epiphany I had as a GM was learning that saying "no" was not as much fun as saying "yes, but...". There are very few things I have had to say no to outright in the last couple years. Everything else got a "yes, but..." and I outlined what would need to be done, restrictions, or hooks.

My players have more fun and I am having a better time running the games.


Specifically for Keep on the Shadowfell:

It might be a good idea to direct the PCs towards the dragon burial site encounter before you send them to the kobold lair. The kobold lair encounter is absolutely vicious, and is almost guaranteed to knock down a few PCs; it may even cause a TPK if they aren't careful. The extra experience in combat from the burial site fight could be invaluable.

Also, this means the characters will likely return to Winterhaven before striking out after the kobold lair, which means they'll be fully rested up.

And, as others have said, have fun!


- Make sure you KNOW what everyone can do. Think about strategies ahead of time.

- Collect all the information you will need in your own format. KotS has information scattered around the book at random. It's like they designed it to show you how great the organization is in the core books.

- Plan your adventure hook. It's not a purely linear adventure, so you should know how you're going to aim things, and plan for the players going all possible directions.


Great Old One
Rechan said:
4) If you are using Status Effects (Ongoing damage, stunned, dazed, etc), write a note card with the condition written on it. Tell them that every time they hold a card, they have to make a saving throw (1-9 ongoing, 10-20 it's gone) at the beginning fo their turn for every card they hold. It's a good memory tool.
It should be at the end of their turn, but otherwise it's good advice.


First Post
I run my first Kots adventure 2 days ago with group of 4 players (3 of those players had experience with 4e already). They managed to clear both burial site and kobold lair (total 5 encounters). Session lasted for few hours, but rp was reduced to minimum - Most of my players are either power accumulators or they just want to kick butt. From my perspective everyone had very good time. Suggestions:

1. Know your players - put emphasis on the part of the adventure they will like. If your group likes storetelling a lot you need to really add more story to Kots. If they preffer combat your are good.

2. I created 2 quests for the advture to give my players an illusion of choice - One was missing husband (From hooks), other was Kobold Lair. Both had 750 XP reward, kobold lair also had 100gp reward as noted in the adventure. I wrote down those info on cards and gave those to my players - including XP rewards.

3. Items - My players wanted to buy/sell some stuff from the smithy - for the sake of saving time I told them that it's not possible in this session because we don't have the list of prices etc. It wasn't good solution, so for the next session I have a list of magic items they can buy (from various sources, including the stuff they can find later in the adventure). You also might want to allow players to buy/find some healing potions before kobold lair.

4. Kobold Lair This encounter is deadly. If your players try to chase the running away kobold into the watefall, it's pretty much TPK (They do need a short rest between those encounters). I adjusted the encounters of course for 4 players - by discarding some kobolds and/or minions. You might want to drop some monsters there as well - if your group contains new players and so. Second encounter was going pretty well untill irontooth became bloodied. He pretty much dropped a Warlord and Rogue to negative hp in one round, using action point. Long story short - Warlock (I allowed player to use DDXP one) killed both iroontooth and wyrmpriest while rest of the party was unconscious. Warrior failed 3 saving throws and died.

5. Leader - I stronglly suggest that your group contains either Cleric or Warlord. Their healing is really useful.

6. Warrior - If your group contains a warrior make sure he understand how his opportunity attacks work - it's mega useful against shifty kobolds. I'm a bit mean GM and i try to keep my mouth shut when people forget about their abilities.

7. Ambush encounter - It can be dangerous as well, you might want to discard a dragonshield and add some minions instead. My players had some pretty bad rolls (warlord got dropped to 0 hp before he could act - crit + high damage rolls, making this encounter pretty hard).

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