I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the things you miss when you run a roleplaying game instead of playing a character in it, and I’ve remembered something that I don’t think I’ve been giving enough of to my players: namely, the thrill of extracting a character you love from a dangerous situation. It’s the gift that keeps on threatening to kill you.
As you may have guessed from my past few weeks’ worth of columns, I’ve been pretty anxious about getting back behind the DM screen. That finally happened this past Thursday, and it was really fun. The story progressed and grew in ways that were cooler than I initially envisioned (I freaking love that!) and the players were emotionally engaged in what was happening. Also, there was almost no combat whatsoever. Should I be worried? I hope their lust for orc blood doesn’t need to be sated with MINE. (P.S. I game with barbarians.)
if we all had perfect spacial thinking and effective communication skills, we wouldn’t need a battle grid in combat. The DM could describe the dimensions and shape of a room in the dungeon, as well as relative positions of inhabitants and features. We could just describe how far we’re going, all adjust our mental pictures appropriately, and voila: the entire time to set up a battle would be the time we need to talk about it. Unfortunately, we don’t all have that. Some of us are terrible at it (me) while others of us are really good at it.
In most of the games I play in, we just sort of level up as the campaign progresses. I can buy that. My years of martial arts training tell me that a boot to the head is a very powerful lesson. Combat is a great teacher, assuming one survives. However, the theory always sort of fell apart for me when it came to wizards. Certainly, the wizard would gain a lot of knowledge about what worked and what didn’t after a few battles, but that doesn’t explain why a few weeks into his travels he suddenly knows how to cast a Fireball. Wizards always got screwed anyway.
In which I ignore good advice, accept better advice, accidentally stumble into great adventure, and achieve my heart’s desire. If you’re a cinnamon roll aficionado and this is making you hungry, then this post is probably going to disappoint. Only I can eat my words. Shame they don’t taste like cinnamon rolls.
In which Vanir opens the Pandora’s Box of gaming, and learns things he cannot un-know. In which the Infinite Improbability Drive of D&D can let a DM both cheat and not cheat simultaneously. In which redemption is sought,
Combat speed in D&D is an oft-debated topic, and while much of the conversation is useful, I have one method that I trumpet above all others to make your combats take less time and work better as a scene in your game, and that’s the combat “out.”
As I watched helplessly, I realized there was a certain rhythm to the battles, a swing and parry, a leap and tumble, a slash and dash and crash… a STANDARD and MOVE and MINOR. All at once, I saw that the action in this movie could be broken into pieces and reassembled into something like the Dungeons & Dragons 4E combat rules.
This post is inspired bu a Twitter discussions I had last week. As my player level up right into paragon level, I noticed that the length of combat in D&D 4e kept increasing. We often break the 90 minutes point for ‘normal’ encounters and massive boss-level fights will easily eat up most of our 3 […]