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Title: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 03, 2006, 02:32:05 PM
Hello,

Two houses down from where my wife and I live, there's a family whom we like a lot. They include Christopher, who's 11 or 12. Since we moved here, 3 1/2 years ago, Christopher figured out that I was one of "those" adults who read SF and fantasy, knew about cool movies and cartoons, and had a million books and comics. He decided I was ultra-cool when he lent me some pre-teen SF, Animorphs if memory serves, and I - gasp! - read it, discussed it with him, and recommended some stuff like it. The dad, Dan, played a little AD&D back in the day, and always liked the idea of role-playing but never got into the whole subculture. My wife and I socialize with them every so often, doing the barbecue thing in the back yards, etc.

A couple of weeks ago, Christopher asked me if I would run some D&D for him and Dan. I said sure, and dug out my copy of 3.0 with the little character-making CD, that I got at GenCon 2000. I also went out and bought a copy of 3.5. I didn't get the Monster Manual or the DM Guide, having perused them in the past. For the former, the internet is full of cool D20 monsters, especially with the help of stalwarts like Clinton, and for the latter, I think it's mostly ass, sad but true.

I did bring over a few other games to let them see them, like HeroQuest and The Shadow of Yesterday. Marketing and history won out; Christopher is dead-set on D&D as a cultural icon, and that's that. Dan did borrow The Mountain Witch with a gleam in his eye, though.

We all had a little talk about what we'd like to do, and my jargony conclusion from what they said is, "light-hearted Narrativism, with necessary attention to strategy in order to keep characters alive." So no gonzo Gamist Magic-deck style Feat combinations, no crazed perusing of spell lists from every possible supplement, etc. These guys are still getting their feet wet in terms of "It's my turn to hit?" and don't really want to read up on every rule in order to maximize every hit's damage. And bluntly, when it comes to looking over every little box on the sheet and figuring out that they should be getting +7 instead of +5, well, I warned them - that's not my job. I'll be hitting them with penalties and AC bonuses to foes, and if they don't track their +'s for various things, too bad.

In order not to do too much violence to the rules, though, I'm going over their characters and listing out all the stuff about bonuses and options, but I didn't bother to do that before the first session. As I say, they're still just grasping the basic idea.

I also put into practice a decision I made after first reading this book  5 1/2 years ago, which is: start at 3rd level and emphasize multi-classing. I decided long ago that every D&D character should have at least one level in something fight-y, and suggested this to them. I also had each player create two characters, to be played simultaneously for a four-character party. Results, after they whipped up characters by clicking on the CD's options:

(Christopher)
Human, 2nd-level fighter + 1st-level cleric
Elf, 2nd-level paladin + 1st-level cleric

(Dan)
Half-orc, 3rd-level barbarian
Half-elf, 2nd-level fighter + 1st-level sorcerer

Now, I realize that a bunch of you are shaking your heads in tactical dismay. You know what? Bugger off. These are what these guys want to play, and if they're pitifully weak in spellcraft, then they are. If Christopher likes clerics, then he gets to play some cleric-ness. If he wants them both 1st-level and hence misses out on a primary survival tactic, then he does. Case closed. I specifically did not take over character creation from them, like I habitually did twenty years ago, and like GMs typically do up through the present day. My job is suitable challenge and fun scenarios, for what they want to play.

I did go over them to point out stuff like "make sure you PUT ON the armor you bought," or telling Christopher that a two-handed sword cannot be used at the same time as a battle-axe, like he was thinking. I also revised some details based on what 3.5 gives them, e.g. beefing up the sorcerer a little. I also pointed out that social skills may be as important as combat ones, because you can defeat some opponents socially rather than kill them.

Hey, one thing that's really cool! I played my first D&D game back in 1978, and I've never ever seen this before. It is really cool! Wait for it ...

... Dan's two characters are half-brothers, with the same mom. Is that not totally cool or what? How utterly stupid not to have thought of that! 1978 to 2006, that's 28 years, and I never did! Smack my forehead with a frat paddle. 

So, on to our first adventure, run last Saturday afternoon. Prep was easy and fun. I'm good at light-fantasy situations. A cool monster or too with Clinton's help, a couple maps from the internet, and my relationship-map habits (especially small, easy ones) always create adventure.

In this case, I came up with aging Lord Khoros, his arrogant son, and his son's catamite-ish scheming friend. The older sibling, Raetha, was given away long ago to forestall the curse of the dead grandfather. Now, she's running around the forest all feral, with a pack of hyenas. But, the grandfather (who's now a ghast) is still after her, which no one knows about yet. And the son, who's officially the heir now, is an idiot. Lord Khoros thinks his daughter is dead and feels he's betrayed his honor by giving her up. I found great portraits for all the characters at the Wizards D&D site, especially the half-elf, Corin (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/pc_portraits/PCP_halfbreed3.jpg), and his half-orc brother, Forin (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/pc_portraits/PCP_halfbreed13.jpg).

Our heroes are friends of the family in various ways and are showing up for Lady Khoros' funeral. I armed myself with some hyenas for an encounter as they arrive in the area, and then got some social skills ready among the initial characters to meet.

Big picture: our time was shortened on both ends, because Christopher was studying with a friend, and because Dan's wife & sister decided they could call and summon them home for a movie just because they felt like it. Note to self: establish social contract that includes non-involved family members, to make sure that we actually have the agreed-upon time. I can play some serious cards for this goal, because I'm not a pimply older teen but a fellow wage-slave like them and can say stuff like "My time is valuable, and I'm taking said time to meet the request of your kid, so please respect that," and so on.

So we only had time for the hyena fight, which frankly, went rather well, I thought! The hyenas were taken straight from the Hypertext D20 SRD (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/hyena.htm), which Clinton told me about. I added one ability, that their laughing yelps could be used to force a Fortitude Save; if the character fails, he becomes flatfooted as per the Surprise rules. Clinton also made up Hyena Zombies for me, which I plan to use later.

My map provided a perfect fight-spot en route to the Khoros keep, along a river bounded by thick woods. So the characters had a couple squares' width with the river at their backs when the hyenas lurked out of the forest. I tossed seven at'em. Here's what I had in mind.

1. We could start with skill checks, like Hide and Spot, and then I could use that as a basis for Surprise.

How'd this work? Pretty well! The funny thing is that I rolled a 1 for the hyenas' Hide skill. Since I roll openly, the players appreciated that the hyenas got a bad bounce and that the characters were totally unsurprised, able to get un-flatfooted, and able to ready whatever weapons they wanted, while the hyenas sorted themselves out.

2. The hyenas would primarily attack from inside the underbrush and trees, lunging out at the characters on the path. That gave the hyenas +3 AC, I figured. Then if and when a character took a good hit, a few hyenas would leap out and swarm him, losing the AC bonus. If anyone went in the water, well, there would go their DEX bonus and all kinds of other neat things might happen there too, like losing footing and being swept downstream.

This worked really well. It's all old-school stuff for me, dating mainly back to The Fantasy Trip, in which facing and movement are a really big deal. Veterans of 3.0/3.5 will find this very old news, but to me, the Attacks of Opportunity made play more interesting for all the obvious reasons. One of the characters did take a bad hit, at which point several hyenas went after him at once - upon realizing the importance of maneuvering, a player had another character move in such a way as to protect the more-wounded guy, threatening the zones around him so the hyenas would pay too high a price by continuing to rend him.

3. I didn't see this as a to-the-death fight, as the hyenas actually were trying to protect Raetha, and I wanted Raetha to be glimpsed 'way back in the trees at one point in the fight. I decided that after three or four rounds, she would call the hyenas off. (Note: this was definitely a bit bogus. It smacks of having a gratuitous fight with no consequences, and also of having a fight with critters that didn't really have a reason to kill the characters. I may retrofit some of the character-based logic later. On the other hand, I do want to leave it up to the players to decide about Raetha's fate, eventually, and I don't want her to be a 100% positive character. So maybe it's not so bad.)

Part of the reason I stuck with this in play was the interruptive phone call, so against my better judgment I decided to have Raetha call off the hyenas. Some good Spot and Listen rolls gave them some good information on her, too.

It ended with a couple characters down to very few hit points. I would have liked to finish the fight without withdrawing the hyenas, and I'd anticipate that at least one party member would go down, but not be killed, before all the hyenas either fled or died. We came pretty close to that anyway.

Other good points about the fight include ...

1. I didn't fuck up the magic. My old skillz remained, and although I thought there were some new rules I was overlooking, it turned out, upon reading the book, that I didn't. It all got run just right. I believe the most effective spells thrown were a well-placed ray of frost and, of course, Ye Olde magic missile which nailed a hyena for 5.

2. The two players made important decisions when the hyenas all backed out of the combat simultaneously. Christopher, conscious of his character's special status as paladin, specifically did not take his Attack of Opportunity and let the animal turn around and retreat. Dan, who'd been irked at Corin getting mauled and who'd enjoyed playing Forin coming to his half-brother's rescue, did take the opportunity and killed a final hyena, essentially striking it down from behind. Raetha's going to remember both of them quite well for those actions.

Oh, there are all sorts of other things to mention ... I'm never really going to like D&D combat, I'm afraid. It has a grind-down quality that's native to the system, and D&D fighters' tank-like, clanking tough-it-out tactics are always a little boring. "Initiative" is, to me, a little like taking out the old tricycle and riding it around the driveway in expectation of fond nostalgia and discovering that, you know, this thing wasn't all that great.

But we'll run a fun little story together. I'll see how they decide which NPCs they like and don't like, I'll bust out the ghast grand-dad with his nasty zombie hyenas, and the characters will probably take sides on who gets to be the heir. So far, so good, even though we only had a little fight.

All told, the two guys had a great time and Christopher was agog with joy at playing D&D.

Questions for you D20 dungeon-heads

1. Am I missing something, or are sorcerers really not that much different from wizards except for how many spells they get at which times? I was expecting a bigger distinction in terms of actual spell use.

2. Are there any substantive combat-tactic or procedure differences between 3.0 and 3.5? I know that some of the character options and packages are different, but I'm looking for potential pitfalls if we use both books freely as look-up sources during combat, during play.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Troy_Costisick on April 03, 2006, 03:02:54 PM
Heya,

Quote
1. Am I missing something, or are sorcerers really not that much different from wizards except for how many spells they get at which times? I was expecting a bigger distinction in terms of actual spell use.

-The only difference I've ever detected was that sorcerers tend to be a bit more flexible since they can cast whatever they got so long as they have a spell slot open.  As far as the actual spells go, they are very similar.

Quote
Now, I realize that a bunch of you are shaking your heads in tactical dismay. You know what? Bugger off. These are what these guys want to play, and if they're pitifully weak in spellcraft, then they are.

-In the four or so 3.0/.5 campaigns I've played in, spell casting (especially wizards and sorcerers) always seemed a bit weak, especially in the higher levels.  So many monsters have spell resistance and decent saves that it can be hard for non-twinked characters to land stuff.  Buffs and healing are the best ways to IMO.

Peace,

-Troy


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Kintara on April 03, 2006, 03:27:12 PM
Quote
1. Am I missing something, or are sorcerers really not that much different from wizards except for how many spells they get at which times? I was expecting a bigger distinction in terms of actual spell use.
Well, Sorcerers have access to fewer spells, and are essentially tied to the choices they make when they choose their Spells Known (except to some swapping out at certain times between levels), but they don't need to prepare spells. They have the flexibility to cast one of their spells known as many times as they have slots available. Wizards have to prepare spells, so they often lack tactical flexibility, but they more than make up for it by having more spell options at their fingertips in their spellbooks. The benefit of being a Wizard is that you can cast any Wiz/Sor spell they are able to, given some time, research, and a bit of money. They have strategic flexibility.  Also, they get bonus feats, which are nifty (they make much better item crafters).

Also metamagic works differently for the two classes. Sorcerers, for instance, can't really benefit from Quicken Spell, but can apply most other metamagic spells on the fly.

Quote
2. Are there any substantive combat-tactic or procedure differences between 3.0 and 3.5? I know that some of the character options and packages are different, but I'm looking for potential pitfalls if we use both books freely as look-up sources during combat, during play.
I can't think of anything huge. The main differences were in the classes and stuff, as you say, and they overhauled the Damage Reduction system for monsters. They also changed the way weapon size works, though I'm not sure if that falls in the scope of what you're looking for.


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Ben Lehman on April 03, 2006, 08:31:24 PM
First of all, let me say that if, for any reason, Clinton doesn't want to hit you up with d20 goods (in terms of monsters, whatever), I'm happy to help out.  Lord, let my hours with those books be useful to someone!

Now to answer your two questions:

Quote
1. Am I missing something, or are sorcerers really not that much different from wizards except for how many spells they get at which times? I was expecting a bigger distinction in terms of actual spell use.

2. Are there any substantive combat-tactic or procedure differences between 3.0 and 3.5? I know that some of the character options and packages are different, but I'm looking for potential pitfalls if we use both books freely as look-up sources during combat, during play.

1) At the level of strategy you're playing at (which is totally fine -- D&D works as long as everyone's at basically the same level of strategy), there isn't a huge difference.  Sorcerers use their spells more often, wizards get slightly more selection.  Since low-level casters are generally pretty limited in their selection anyway (magic missile, mage armor, shield, sleep), Sorcerers are slightly better.  At higher levels, the Wizard's ability to make better use of metamagic and item creation will help enormously.
  In higher strategy play, spell selection and usage is totally different between the two.  Certain spells are simply better for Sorcerers or better for Wizards, because the Sorcerer's usage pattern is "have a hammer, look for nails" and the Wizard's is "have the right tool for the job at hand."
  Over 5th level or so, Sorcerers can be remarkably hard to strategize for (it requires serious advanced planning of the MtG deck-building type.)  I doubt that you're going to get to that point with this game, though, so don't sweat it.  If your sorcerer dude ends up taking a lot of levels, expect to have him end up lagging a bit behind the other characters.

2) There are technical differences between 3.0 and 3.5 -- mostly a lot of niggling details in the procedures of combat.  The classes that underwent the most revision were the Ranger and Bard, and the Rogue and Sorcerer also have some different bits.  Many, many spells were changed in 3.5 -- I suggest using either one book or the other for all of your spell look-up (either is fine, actually, it's only in high-strategy play that the difference matters)

Now, I'm going to poke a couple of things you said:

1) First, you're down with the fact that D&D3's initiative works very differently from the previous versions, right?  You only roll it once, and that sets up a turn order for the rest of the combat situation.  I just noticed the off-hand comment and wondered.

2) Are you bumping up the CR of the Hyenas for the extra ability?

yrs--
--Ben


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Calithena on April 03, 2006, 11:38:55 PM
Already partly answered but:

1) The big differences between sorcerers and wizards come out at high level - Ben's got them nailed pretty well, but those extra feats for the wizards are also important in item crafting. I wouldn't play a 3.0 wizard without Craft Wand as my bonus feat at 5th - those extra fifty fireballs come in handy. (This part of the game is totally Not Like any version of D&D I ever played, back in the day.)

2) Main combat differences are minor. Miniature size changes, in an IMO lame way - horses are 5x10 in 3.0 and 10x10 in 3.5, ogres go from 5x5 to 10x10 as well. Also, there are no more 'partial actions' in 3.5 IIRC, just move and attack actions. Also, the sleep and haste and harm and a few other spells get nerfed in 3.5, they're much weaker.

In general Monte Cook's review at http://www.montecook.com/arch_review26.html does a good job summarizing the differences, though it may be more info than you wanted.

I personally sort of like switching back and forth between both - it's quite 'old school' to have subtly different and conflicting rule sets, like when I played with the Original Collector's Edition and Holmes Boxed Set side by side, trying to extrapolate the Holmes rules to higher levels using the older sources (I didn't have the Greyhawk supplement which would have bridged them). Undoubtedly this is perverse though.

3) If you want some nasty Arduin monsters and items I converted a bunch here:

http://1.myfreebulletinboard.com/calithena-about9.html


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Callan S. on April 04, 2006, 01:21:50 AM
Quick note on intiative: Initiative is like a 'save Vs one attack per monster'. Like if you were fighting a monster and it took you five rounds to kill him, if you lost init to him he's going to get his fifth round on you before you finish him off. If you win init, he dies before he gets to do that. If your fighting multiple monsters and fail init to them, their all going to get that extra round on you.

Not to mention rogues and flatfootedness, or even regular joes (an opponent can have a considerably lower AC when their flat footed).

And as said, you only roll it once. That's quite alot staked on one roll, if you tally it up.


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: cmnash on April 04, 2006, 03:22:02 AM
Hi Ron,  Based on what you said (and no-one has mentioned this so far) one difference to watch out for between 3.0 and 3.5 is Cover

In 3.0 you have different degrees of cover - like 1/2, 9/10ths, etc - which give different bonuses, but in 3.5 it gives a flat +4

(This is all subject to an IIRC caveat!)

Colin


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 04, 2006, 07:35:40 AM
H'm, well, there was one fuckup then - we re-rolled initiative each round. I suppose we'll have to do it right from now on, but I'm a little boggled as to why one wouldn't roll each time. Although I appreciate your point about the over-structure of combat, Callan. Oh! Now I get it ... the whole point of D&D, modern version, is to focus on multiple fights over the long haul, not individualized components of fights. That's the scale of the reward system, after all. OK. Letting a key roll affect each fight as a whole, then, makes sense.

Sean, I too find the option of freely switching between 3.0 and 3.5 during play, even contradictorily depending on which book was closest to whoever's looking it up, strangely appealing. I'm serious. That seems to be a comfy-zone in my mind, relative to D&D as an experience. I might have to fight against that attitude in order not to confuse my fellow players.

Arduin critters for D20? Oh, yes, baby! Sean is my hero.

Ben, regarding the Challenge Rating of the hyenas, one of my tasks this week is to read up on the Experience Points system and levelling in general, in detail. I really don't want to have to buy the DM Guide, which probably would force me to deface most of its "how to DM" pages with a thick black Sharpie out of sheer horror (gahhh! it's not even good Gamist advice! someone stop me, please!), so is there a good summary on-line? Currently the hyenas are at CR 1, and there were seven of them, and I suppose the yelps might bump them up to CR 2 - although I don't think so, all but one character handily saved against it, and the one guy is the one who got savaged. Frankly, I think it was a good straight-up, evenly matched fight, with every ability and spell and weapon and circumstance (e.g. Cover) factored in just right.

More thoughts on CR and so forth after I've read more. I've followed a lot of the dialogues over the last six years about this issue, so all I need now is to brush up on the rules. For now, guys, don't talk to me about CR issues regarding higher-level characters. These guys are 3rd level. Let me think about it for them.

Cover is +4? OK, the +3 I gave them isn't terribly off from that, especially since I think of it as leafy brushy cover at close range, not a brick wall. Not a big deal.

Thanks for all the comments about sorcerers and wizards. I have now received all the feedback about that issue that I can stand. Remember, 3rd level, 3rd level. I can't use a dissertation about 12th-level options and item creation is totally off the radar screen.

H'm, I'll have to look up Damage Reduction now.

Oh yes, in the spirit of retro appreciation, you guys will like this - the same day I bought 3.5, I was reading it and sipping a soda, then got up quickly and knocked the soda right onto the open pages. Goddamit. But now the book looks like it should, scarred through use and the close association of snack beverages.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Lance D. Allen on April 04, 2006, 07:46:45 AM
One further note on initiative that I remember from 3.0 (may be different in 3.5) is that you can take a full round action (no attacking, defending, moving, etc.) to reset your initiative roll as if you rolled a 20. I don't remember what the rule is called, but I tended to roll badly on initiative, so I took advantage of it more than once.


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Tommi Brander on April 04, 2006, 07:55:21 AM
One further note on initiative that I remember from 3.0 (may be different in 3.5) is that you can take a full round action (no attacking, defending, moving, etc.) to reset your initiative roll as if you rolled a 20. I don't remember what the rule is called, but I tended to roll badly on initiative, so I took advantage of it more than once.
Refocus (IIRC) works on both editions. And is generally a bad idea as it postpones your action.


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Lance D. Allen on April 04, 2006, 08:10:13 AM
Not if you're the bottom of the order, anyhow. It's not an always tactic, but it has it's uses.

I am interested in seeing where this goes, Ron. My interest in D&D 3.x has been reawakened lately because I've been playing Dungeons and Dragons Online off and on for the last month. I've been reevaluating it's strengths and weaknesses somewhat, and I'd like to see how your observations match up with my own.


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: ffilz on April 04, 2006, 08:13:45 AM
Simple expression of the D&D XP system:

First, the encounter level (EL) system: A CRx creature is an ELx encounter, which is the "standard" encounter for a group of 4 LEVELx PCs. Two identical CRx creatures are ELx+2 (if x is >= 1, for x < 1, 1/x creatures = EL1).

Now the XP system: it takes about 13 ELx encounters for a group of 4 LEVELx characters to advance one level. It would take 26 ELx-2 encounters, or 6.5 ELx+2 encounters. The XP chart actually works by CR, but two CRx-2 creatures gives the same XP as one CRx creature, which if you do the math all out, means that you can actually just plug in ELx and save a lot of math.

Now there is one exception to this general XP rule, for levels 1-3, the system is different. I don't think you'll be hurt by ignoring it.

Also, the EL system is generally considered to not hold well for more than 8 creatures. The official XP charts also give no XP for creatures below some cut-off level (that I can't remember - but it probably keys in just fine with the no more than 8 creatures).

Personally, I wouldn't worry about the exceptions. Now you don't need the DMG. The SRD will give you all the magic items you need.

Oh, if you cared about it, the DMG does also give expected treasure per encounter, and expected wealth per level. I followed the expected wealth guidelines, but I don't think it will kill the game to just wing it.

I'd tend to agree with the suggestion, pick one PH or the other for spell reference (which of course mostly eliminates the advantage you thought you could get by having both on the table). Optionally, have each player consistently use one PH (which could mean the same spell works differently for two different players).

As to the 5x10 or 5x5 vs 10x10 large creature "facing"/"space" difference between 3.0 and 3.5: I ended up going with the 3.5 space because I kept forgetting that ogres got 10' reach. Having a big fat 2"x2" counter on the battle mat made it much easier to remember that bigger reach. Unless you have large PCs, or they acquire lots of companion creatures, the fact that more people can gang up on the 10x10 ogre than the 5x5 ogre won't make much of a difference.

Frank


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 04, 2006, 08:32:38 AM
Excellent! So far so good.

Quick clarification: the only reason I bought 3.5 was because I wanted two texts at the table for lookup purposes, and another copy of 3.0 wasn't readily available at the moment, as in "that minute." I would have bought another 3.0 for our second text if it had been. Not a big deal, so generous notifications of E-bay copies or offers to mail me one are not necessary (I speak from experience).

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Ben Lehman on April 04, 2006, 09:03:39 AM
If you're going to be mixing rules, be aware of this -- the Big Spell Change means that, in 3.5, boost spells (like Bull's Strength or Fly) tend to last on the order of rounds or minutes, and be more powerful.  In 3.0, they tend to last on the order of hours, and be less powerful.  Honestly, for your purposes, 3.0 is probably better -- less combat applicable but more fun for general usage.

--

Here's basically how CR works:

A theoretical average party of four N level characters ought to be able to take on four N level encounters before resting.  Encounters are staged such that 13-14 of appropriate level will give enough XP for an advance.  Higher level encounters (so a fifth level characters fighting a 6th level monster) give more XP than they should, and lower level encounters less.

Encounters with groups give +1 CR per doubling.  So an encounter with 7 hyenas (CR 1, let's say) as actually CR 4, because it's two doublings.  Which means it should chew up your party pretty bad but not beat them -- exhausting 1/3 - 1/2 of their resources.  Which sounds about right for what happened.

--

Initiative in 3rd ed D&D is quite sane, not because of the rewards, but because it means that people necessarily get turns in order.  There's no "I go, now you get to go twice, now I get to go" wierdness like previous editions had.  If you stop thinking in absolute rounds and think of it like turns in Monopoly, everything will make more sense.  We don't have all the players roll to go first in monopoly, then they all take their turns, they they all roll for turn order again.  We roll to go first, once, and that sets the turn order for the rest of the game.

3rd edition D&D is probably more akin to Monopoly than it is to some of its more obvious ancestors...

yrs--
--Ben


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Adam Dray on April 04, 2006, 12:09:37 PM
Set up index cards to manage initiative. Write each character's name on a card and a list of important stats for each that you want at your fingertips. When you bring a monster into an encounter, have a card ready for it.  Roll initiative and write their roll on their card, then sort the cards in descending order. If you need it, drop a different-colored card at the bottom to tell you "round over." I color-code PCs differently than DM-controlled characters and monsters.

In combat, you can just look at the top of the card stack to know whose turn it is. If someone pulls an initiative trick (refocusing, etc.), you can move the card to the right position in the stack; you still have the numbers everyone rolled on each card. When someone finishes their turn, move that card to the bottom of the stack. Simple, very effective.

I believe that 3.5 introduced the atrocity of the trip attack with the spiked chain (http://boards1.wizards.com/archive/index.php/t-115489.html). If any of your players takes Improved Trip, you'll want to check that out. But, really, good for them if they do. =)


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Glendower on April 04, 2006, 03:11:58 PM
I really don't want to have to buy the DM Guide, which probably would force me to deface most of its "how to DM" pages with a thick black Sharpie out of sheer horror (gahhh! it's not even good Gamist advice! someone stop me, please!)

I think you should buy a DMG for EXACTLY this reason.  It would be cathartic! 

In fact, I think I'll go deface mine right now...


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Callan S. on April 04, 2006, 10:18:05 PM
H'm, well, there was one fuckup then - we re-rolled initiative each round. I suppose we'll have to do it right from now on, but I'm a little boggled as to why one wouldn't roll each time. Although I appreciate your point about the over-structure of combat, Callan. Oh! Now I get it ... the whole point of D&D, modern version, is to focus on multiple fights over the long haul, not individualized components of fights. That's the scale of the reward system, after all. OK. Letting a key roll affect each fight as a whole, then, makes sense.
I think it might merely be a time saving device. If you keep rolling your initiative, you'll hit a hard average...so if your +4 to init then your average is 14 and if your foe is +2, he'll be 12. The result over time is obvious, so they cut it down to just one roll (since you wont squeeze anything else out of multiple rolls).

But I hadn't even though of it like that before, to be honest. I've just thought it's just there to trip me up and thus fitted in. How were you trying to get it to fit, that it boggled you? Or were you trying to grasp it as a designer, rather than a player out to win? :)

Quote
Sean, I too find the option of freely switching between 3.0 and 3.5 during play, even contradictorily depending on which book was closest to whoever's looking it up, strangely appealing. I'm serious. That seems to be a comfy-zone in my mind, relative to D&D as an experience. I might have to fight against that attitude in order not to confuse my fellow players.
This is something interesting. Would it be that theres an uncertainty of just how the game world works, created by and residing in the schism between the two books?

Quote
Ben, regarding the Challenge Rating of the hyenas, one of my tasks this week is to read up on the Experience Points system and levelling in general, in detail. I really don't want to have to buy the DM Guide, which probably would force me to deface most of its "how to DM" pages with a thick black Sharpie out of sheer horror (gahhh! it's not even good Gamist advice! someone stop me, please!), so is there a good summary on-line? Currently the hyenas are at CR 1, and there were seven of them, and I suppose the yelps might bump them up to CR 2 - although I don't think so, all but one character handily saved against it, and the one guy is the one who got savaged. Frankly, I think it was a good straight-up, evenly matched fight, with every ability and spell and weapon and circumstance (e.g. Cover) factored in just right.
It's a bit tricky to judge CR by how well they did - it can be like giving them less XP because they did well.

Though I don't think the ability is enough in itself to click each creature from CR1 to CR2.

Quote
Cover is +4? OK, the +3 I gave them isn't terribly off from that, especially since I think of it as leafy brushy cover at close range, not a brick wall. Not a big deal.
To be anal, there's cover and there's concealment. Concealment doesn't mean your attack is blocked, it means you just can't see your opponent very well. It works off a percentile roll to see if the shot missed entirely due to concealment. Concealment causes some interesting effects - you could roll a natural twenty to hit and pass your threat roll, but if the concealment percentage comes up it was a miss. It adds a whole new layer to accuracy, as some species, classes, spells and stuff effect the concealment percentage.

Do you need to use it to be 'properly' playing a game of D&D? I share the mindset that the rules should be tried out with no tinkering or adding, to really test what the game itself does.

However, the GM's personal skill at using the system is part of the game world, IMO. Like if you used a monster with a bunch of spells and didn't use them in an utterly optimised way, that'd be okay if your not that great at using them (and as long as it wasn't a matter of going soft on the player or similar). So for myself, if the GM just uses cover and doesn't hit players with the concealment whammy, that's just part of the game world that particular GM generates. But then again I'll accept a GM forgetting to apply a second poison save as part of the world, but it was identified as hardcore gaming when I noted it an an AP account.

Damn, that's interesting to me but it went for longer than expected. I'd like to know what you think about using the rules of the game to properly test it, Vs using what you've mastered of the rules, if you think it's apt to mention that in the thread.


Some further rules minutiae is that skill rolls (like a hide roll) do not fail on a natural one (and do not automatically succeed on a natural 20). So even if someone rolls a nat 1 to hide, people should still roll to spot.

Quote
Oh yes, in the spirit of retro appreciation, you guys will like this - the same day I bought 3.5, I was reading it and sipping a soda, then got up quickly and knocked the soda right onto the open pages. Goddamit. But now the book looks like it should, scarred through use and the close association of snack beverages.
The ritual is complete!!


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Tommi Brander on April 05, 2006, 12:23:19 AM
On tripping: technically, the attack of opportunity happens before you are standing, so it can't be a trip.


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: matthijs on April 05, 2006, 03:47:31 AM
Dan's wife & sister decided they could call and summon them home for a movie just because they felt like it

This really pushes my buttons. I don't know these people, so I don't know what's up, but the wife & sister knew you had all agreed to spend time playing - and they just called it off because they felt like it? Sorry if I'm out of line, but sounds like there was some yanking of chains going on.


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 05, 2006, 05:31:36 AM
I appreciate all the posting and attention to the thread, but you guys are starting to get a little strange. This often happens in a D&D thread, because the degree of felt-ownership is so strong for this game.

Adam, that's a good idea, and I may consider it. However, keeping track of turn order was completely easy. I've been doing this sort of thing for some time, after all.

Callan, each bit of information I've posted that led to your questions seems to have done at least one right-angle turn in your head before you framed the question. Not to mention leaped a level in abstraction. Where you got the idea that I'm "testing the rules," I don't know, for instance. Or what in the world you're thinking about initiative, which I see as a straightforward rule which I merely misinterpreted based on how other games often do it. You seem to be finding philosophical gold in ... well, where there isn't any. I'm pretty sure I'm just going to leave your post as an interesting artifact and not try to follow your path to it.

Matthijs, the ways of suburbia are mysterious ... to round out the picture a little, Christopher had already breached the "when to start" time, and perhaps in wife-think, this means that the agreed-upon ending point remained unchanged. Not that anyone ever told me about the ending point. Plus, I wrote "because they felt like it" based on my hearing one end of the phone call, so who knows what was really said. I can see why you'd be frustrated in reading it, but in real life, my only goal was actually to play in such a way that we'd want to continue. Everything else was details and points for improvement later.

Hey, who's run modern D&D with a heavy emphasis on social conflict, using the skills? I seem to remember a few of you out there talking about this. I don't foresee any trouble, as it looks like bog-standard mid-80s mechanics to me.

And finally, here's what would help. You saw my description of the three characters, and they defeated five hyenas (the ones called away by Raetha don't count, I think). So if the characters are 3rd level, and the hyenas are Challenge Rating 1, and if they beat five of them ...

... how many XPs? Yes, I'm being lazy. Y'all seem so eager to participate I thought I'd give you something to do.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Dirk Ackermann on April 05, 2006, 06:30:22 AM
375 XP.

But this is on the fly, as I don't have the books here.

Dirk


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Dirk Ackermann on April 05, 2006, 06:31:28 AM
I mean per char. 375 per char.

Dirk


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Dirk Ackermann on April 05, 2006, 06:34:44 AM
Sorry for all this posting, but there were 7 of the creatures, right?

Five killed and the rest backed off?

Because in 3.0/3.5 you become the XP even if they run or you can outwit them. In this case it will be 525 XP.

Dirk


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Ben Lehman on April 05, 2006, 06:49:21 AM
Hey, Ron.

*raises hand on the high-social, skill D&D*

The trick with this is to use a relationship map and bangs -- well, I didn't call them that, but that's what they were.  Key skills are Diplomacy, Intimidate, Sense Motive, Bluff and Gather Information.

The real trick with this sort of play is to make sure that it doesn't get bogged down into talking in character, which should be a problem for you, it looks like, and to make sure that spotlight and efficacy gets split between the players equally.

The second one is the trickier of the two, from the GM's perspective.  It is very easy for high-charisma or high-skill characters to absolutely dominate this sort of play, leaving little for other characters to do.  The trick here is to bring in race and class and alignment as hooks.

Example not with your characters:  If the Rogue has handled things for a while, make sure that the Fighter's buddy on the town guard contacts him with some info, or they need to see a bishop who shares a faith with the Cleric.  A way you might think of this is imagine that you're using the Circles mechanic from Burning Wheel.

Also: Make sure that there's something involving every Profession or Knowledge skill on the table.

That's basically what I can recall from 3-4 years ago, when this was my dominant mode of GMing.

yrs--
--Ben


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Storn on April 05, 2006, 06:57:55 AM
On initiative, I think if someone takes no action, they can bump their initiative up somehow.  I vaguely remember that.  So, yeah, you roll once, but there can be some interesting tactical stuff involved.

Or maybe that was my silly house rule.  I didn't play 20 for that long, returning to my home brew and then finding that my homebrew was almost identical to Savage Worlds.


BUT!  This is not the reason for my reply.

I just wanted to say how freakin' COOL it was to read this beginning of this thread.  Two kids, pscyched about the possiblities, showing much more grasp of story and plot and character decisions than I did when I was that age playing for the first time (but then again, I cut my teeth on Tactics II, Skirmish Wargames and Airfix WWII tank minature rules, I was the environment that fostered Chain Mail).

And while I "feel your pain" (tongue in cheek) on running d20, I think it is awesome that you catered to their outlook.  That really shows respect for where they are coming for.  And yeah, it is a triumph of marketing forces... but this HERE is simply the beginning.  Later down the line, the discussion of other systems and even the realization of how marketing affected their decision is a pretty damn good life lesson wrapped up in a RPG candy coating.

But if you run it stressing some social skill checks and the like... then you will install in them an awareness for that.  Something that wasn't even on the radar when I first started.  D&D didn't ahve skills, much less social ones.

 It took Call of Cthlhulu and Swordbearer (a Runequest lite variant) to realize that, "hey!  If I made my dancing check with the Princess of City State of the Invincible Overlord, I might impress her more".  That was my defining moment... when my thinly veiled Conan pastiche realized that he WANTED to be accepted by the more civilized culture.  He took dancing lessons, wanted to learn to read, wanted to be loved.  It was my first character arc.  When my cliche became slightly more.

So, thanks for sharing.  I hope you had lots of fun.  I know it will expose the kids to a whole new world, something akin,but next door to World of Warcraft and Harry Potter.  Kudos!


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Thunder_God on April 05, 2006, 02:11:52 PM
Nitpicky, Storn, one is a kid, one is his father :)


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Storn on April 05, 2006, 02:36:07 PM
Nitpicky, Storn, one is a kid, one is his father :)

Hey!  I can tell you in an instant if a horizon line is put in a picture wrong.  Or if a camera obscura was used.

but reading comprehension?!?!!?   

...er....

...duh...

wha?


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Callan S. on April 05, 2006, 10:45:23 PM
Hi Ron,

Okay, never mind all the other stuff. Straight past abstraight to a direct question: What makes you want to avoid doing violence to the rules? What makes you care about the rules fuck ups made?


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Storn on April 06, 2006, 06:00:35 AM
Hi Ron,

Okay, never mind all the other stuff. Straight past abstraight to a direct question: What makes you want to avoid doing violence to the rules? What makes you care about the rules fuck ups made?

Good question.  And I was trying to get there myself... but Callan asked it better.


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 06, 2006, 10:54:07 AM
You're asking about my motives? Must have forgotten whom you're talking to.

That's an unanswerable question. I can barely imagine what you're actually asking, if anything.

I'll answer the coherent, if trivial, question you didn't ask. The answer is, the game undoubtedly offers unique and fun payoffs for following the rules as faithfully as possible. I recognize the nostalgia payoff for many, for instance, which I occasionally sort of feel a little bit, or am reminded of remembering what they feel like. I also know that Monte and Jonathan put a lot of effort into those rules in terms of procedural (what I call functional) payoff, and I want some, whatever it might be.

I mean, it's not rocket science, this is the same answer a person would give for playing Scrabble or Old Maid or foosball by the rules.

And if you go off on some gibble-gabble about "no, what I meant was" and other vagueness, I swear to God I'll kick it into the Inactive File. Don't you have any concrete, interesting questions or points about actually playing D&D?

Like Dirk. He helped me with the Experience Points, which is both nice and could yield a fun discussion about other things I want to reward them for, like the role-playing regarding the combat choices that I mentioned. (Oh yeah, only five hyenas counted; they didn't defeat the other two, who were called away by an NPC.)

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: jburneko on April 06, 2006, 11:13:57 AM
Hey Ron,

I don't know if you know this but the XP chart in 3.0/3.5 is balanced so that it takes 13 and 1/3 encounters of challenge rating equal to the level of hte party to gain a level.  It assumes a party of four.

So,

For first level it takes 1000 XP to reach second level.  This means the XP for a CR 1 creature is (1000/13.333) * 4.  You then divide that number by the ACTUAL number of party members to get the per character amount.

In your case, you have a bunch of 3rd level characters.  I takes 7000 XP to reach 4th level or a gain of 3000 XP.  So, a CR 3 creature is (3000/13.333) * 4 or 900 XP.

The above I'm certain of.  This next part I'm little fuzzy on.

I believe the chart scales up from there so that a creature of CR eight levels greater than the party nets enough XP for the party to gain a level so for a level 3 party a CR 11 creature is worth 12000 (3000 * 4) XP.

The chart scales down so that a creature of CR nine levels less than the party is worth nothing.  But I'm not sure how the scale works at the lower levels.

Don't know if that was helpful.

Jesse


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 06, 2006, 11:45:58 AM
Hi Jesse,

Yeah, I knew about that. I'll say this, though - 13+ fucking full-scale fights to make it to the next level? What, do these people think we're going to play for 12 hours at a stretch, once or twice a week, for years?

... uh, wait a minute. That is what they're thinking.

I'll have to look up the points for role-playing, "story," and similar. Speed it up a little. The paladin and the barbarian should both definitely get something for the decisions I mentioned.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Thunder_God on April 06, 2006, 11:48:10 AM
It's not "defeat" as much as overcome. Noticing a trap and simply walking around it, seeing a monster and simply skulking through. I'd say they overcame it.


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 06, 2006, 11:55:47 AM
No, they didn't.

They defeated, overcame, etc, five hyenas. The other two were not overcome, defeated, avoided, tricked, frightened away, bought off, or given hyena treats. The players did and achieved nothing regarding the well-being or presence or continuation of the encounter, regarding those two hyenas.

Some twenty-year-old telling me what constitutes a defeat in D&D? I don't think so.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Thunder_God on April 06, 2006, 11:58:45 AM
See, you're too old-school, we've had been redecorating the dungeons with all these new and blue veils!

Seriously, why were they called off? Suppose you kill 30% of an Orc Tribe and then the leader of the tribe decides to negotiate with you, if negotiation succeeds you can by a direct reading of the rules give them XP for the whole Tribe!

Well, guess we'll disagree!


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: ffilz on April 06, 2006, 12:13:07 PM
If you do larger than "full scale" fights, it will be less than 13 encounters (for example, if you throw encounters with 2 CR 3 creatures, it would only be 6 or 7 fights). Their target is about 4 4 hour sessions to make a level. If you run harder encounters, and your players are fairly time efficient, it's quite possible for that to shrink to 2 4 hour sessions to make a level.

As to XP for 5 or 7 hyenas, I think that's in judgement call territory. I think Ron made the right judgement call for his game. There have been all sorts of debates about what constitutes defeating opponents (if you cause an avalanche and wipe out Orcville, how much XP do you get?).

There are no official guidelines on XP for non-combat/non-trap stuff (oh, the other thing in the DMG is stuff on how to determine the CR rating of traps). Many people give an XP bonus of 50xLevel for non-combat stuff.

Frank


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Kintara on April 06, 2006, 12:18:47 PM
Yes. My experience has been that the typical encounter has an EL of a level or two above our level (depending on how high-powered the game is).


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 06, 2006, 12:27:21 PM
We are not disagreeing, Guy. You are flatly wrong. The leader did not choose to negotiate nor to pull out for tactical reasons of any kind. The DM (me) called off the hyenas in order to finish the fight more quickly, for real-world reasons, with a very lame and embryonic in-game excuse to back it up. The party ended up effectively encountering and fighting a five-hyena foe. Don't argue with me any more.

Hey Frank,

Quote
There have been all sorts of debates about what constitutes defeating opponents

Yeah, and I'll bet they're just as much ass as they were back in the 70s, or a few posts up in the thread. If the party deals with the encounter in any way, then it's worth its points. The issue here is whether the other two hyenas were part of "it," and they were not - they were merely Color, as it turned out.

I thank everyone for your help with XP calculations, especially Dirk, but really, I get it, so no more explanation is necessary. Especially the tough parts, like you get more if the monsters are tougher ... OK, will stop being obnoxious now, I promise.

Seriously, Frank & Kintara, that makes sense about the estimated time, and my plans seem like they'll make things more efficient. The next session should be mainly social conflict, and after that, the ghast and his undead hyenas ought to be pretty tough.

No official word on XP for social encounters? Interesting. Or maybe I mis-read you. My interest is this - let's say there are three or four pretty high-skill NPCs, and the player-characters end up coping with them socially (all the skills listed earlier). Now, I'm thinking those NPCs could merely be rated in terms of level, and thus I could derive a CR (or "social CR") for them, and hence calculate XPs from there.

And that's sort of interesting, because repeated dealings with them could generate more XP, given that said encounters really were conflicts with significant outcomes in terms of advantage or status.

See, I don't recall any discussion of that sort of thing from way back when, although I admit the last issue of the Dragon I read was maybe in 1982. What's the word on that now?

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Storn on April 06, 2006, 12:28:10 PM
No, they didn't.

They defeated, overcame, etc, five hyenas. The other two were not overcome, defeated, avoided, tricked, frightened away, bought off, or given hyena treats. The players did and achieved nothing regarding the well-being or presence or continuation of the encounter, regarding those two hyenas.

Some twenty-year-old telling me what constitutes a defeat in D&D? I don't think so.

Best, Ron

REally?  Even the most die-in-the-wool counter moving SPI lovin' combat crunch miester has to deal with morale.  Let's interview those two hyena and see how they feel about things?  

"For Hobbitron News, this Lance TaleStrong, bringing you the latest from Dungeoncrawltopia.  Tell me, Black Spot Hyena, how you felt about your fellows being massacred by the reputed GoodGuyFour?"

"Ah... man...  i"m sad.  I'm glad my tale is firmly between my legs though.  I gots away.  Shame about my compatriots."

"Newsflash!!!  Hyena uses "compatriots" in a sentence!!"


Sorry, just couldn't resist.


I would seriously like to point out the great social dynamic rules in Demagogues and Dynasties by Atlas Games for d20.  yeah, it ain't straight up, outta WotC's bench... but it is d20.  



Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Storn on April 06, 2006, 12:33:19 PM
Crap, is there a way to edit?

Because I didn't mean to imply that there should be XP for the two hyenas... just putting myself in their shoes, albeit jokingly.

As for the XP for social situations, Ron, I don't know.

After a couple of sessions of running d20, I threw up my hands.  I was running sessions of lots of NPC interaction and politics.  It was a crime syndicate game.  Combat happened, just not that much of it.

 I fell back on my Hero background of the usual XP was 3 xp per Ep.  So I just did that.  And granted 500 xp per session... maybe more if it was a long session of major growth and pace.  Which IS kinda suggested in the DMG... but not particularly forcefully or well.



Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Thunder_God on April 06, 2006, 12:41:27 PM
I'm afraid you'll have to fudge it if you want any sense in social encounters.

The other option is to define when it's a conflict and when the characters gain their goals(even if the other sides also gain their goal) give them XP according to the Level/CR of the NPCs. Since their abilities and Skills are reliant on their level it's a scalable CR conflict like anything else. You need to decide though if said interaction is worth XP.


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: ffilz on April 06, 2006, 12:53:04 PM
Actually, they do give some guidance for social encounters. The NPC still has a level, these days, NPCs always have levels, none of these "0 level humans" - there are "NPC" classes in the DMG which aren't quite as good as PC classes, a human with a normal PC class has a CR equal to his level, one with just an NPC class has CR equal to level - 1. They point out that "defeating" or "overcoming" the challenge gains you the XP. So if you set up a social encounter with an NPC that's a 4th level Aristocrat (one of the NPC classes), that's a CR 3 encounter (the main thing the NPC classes don't get is all the bonus feats and such that normal PC classes get).

Quote
given that said encounters really were conflicts with significant outcomes in terms of advantage or status
The rules don't come out and say it like that, but I that statement is a very functional statement for deciding when an encounter is worth XP (that combined with your comment about 2 of the hyenas being "color" is some good ammunition for evaluating the avalanche destroying Orcville - most of the orcs killed that way are just color).

Quote
See, I don't recall any discussion of that sort of thing from way back when, although I admit the last issue of the Dragon I read was maybe in 1982. What's the word on that now?
It really isn't any better today, except they have a little note mentioning that yes, if you talk your way past the CR 2 ogre, you get the same XP as if you killed him. The trouble of course is that since the system doesn't really provide a social conflict resolution system, or at least not one many folks (myself included) are really satisfied with, it leaves people not really sure what to do. So the folks who really want social conflict drift the rules and start talking "system doesn't matter" and folks like me tend to set it up so almost everything is a fight. I think there is room for a middle ground.

Frank


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 06, 2006, 01:15:54 PM
Hiya,

Well, here's my current view on how I'll do it, which is pretty much 'ported from the way we played, back then, mediated through a bunch of Champions over the next decade. In other words, "You all might have cargo cults, but our tribe knows how to do it right." Oh well.

1. In any sort of hostile encounter which could be a fight, any non-fighty way to deal with it that works is worth the XPs. By this logic, defeating a foe in a fight is only the default way to handle it. Sleep'em, trick'em, use the terrain, make a cool saving throw when the DM says you gotta in response to your unusual tactic, and if it works - hey! XP are XP, just as if you fought'em.

2. In any sort of conversation with conflicts of interest involved (note here I'm talking about consequences for future encounters, like if you'll have to fight the guardsmen to get out, or whether you get hired for lots of money), then NPCs' levels get factored into the CR just as you're describing, Frank. (Geez, that -1 is sure clunky ...) So interesting verbal duels and arguments, or perhaps even seductions if I weren't playing with an 11 year old, would count.

Clearly the DM guide logic is all ass-backwards, and they should be figuring the "NPC level" backwards from the amount of XP you get from winning an argument from him, and make it the same as CR. But what can you do.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: ffilz on April 06, 2006, 01:32:48 PM
Yea, the -1 is clunky. Monsters are even worse (look in the "improving monsters" part of the SRD for some insight on how monster CR works)... They have a really good idea with this CR thing, but it needs another round of cooking. One place it ends up really falling apart is when you try and use monsters as PCs. A monster PC has a level equivalent of 1 level per hit die, plus an adder for cool abilities. But the monster's CR doesn't equal this effective level. So you can have the absurdity of a PC stone giant who is effective level 18 who fights an NPC stone giant. Both PC and NPC have exactly the same stats. The PC gets no XP for defeating his fellow stone giant, because a stone giant is CR 8.

Ignoring all that mess, your plan sounds very workable. But it's certainly no surprise given the guidance (or lack thereof) provided that lots of people drift the system and give flat awards per session.

Frank


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: greyorm on April 06, 2006, 01:44:49 PM
Ron, as I recall, one of the bits in the DMG states that social encounters should be given an amount of XP equal to the CR rating of the individual/monster being interacted with, and only if there is some real danger to failing the interaction (ie: the PCs don't get what they want). I don't have the time to grab my book and look it up, but I am fairly confident the ruling was basically as such, by example: negotiating with the 3 HD mayor earns you the same XP as fighting a 3 HD ogre. It's a kludgy sort of system, but it works if the negotiations/social interactions are with individuals who can provide social stuff that is level-appropriate in some fashion.

Also, you're being way over-harsh: "defeat" in D&D has officially changed meanings since you and I were in our role-playing diapers. As in "the rulebook says THIS" official, all old school arguments from the 70's about what constitutes "defeat" aside. If the hyenas showed up and left, without actually contributing anything to the fight (no rolls, etc.), then don't give XP for bypassing them. If the hyenas did attack the party at any point, I don't care if it was GM-fiat that made them pull out -- the party effectively bypassed an obstacle, they get XP for it. Same as if they snuck past a sleeping 20th-level ogre guard without waking him up: they get full XP for the encounter because dice were rolled and the danger was bypassed. Simple.

(There are also tons of optional XP rules in the DMG for modifying how this works out in play, which pretty much work out to eyeballing it.)


Title: Re: [D&D 3.0/3.5] The kid two houses down
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 06, 2006, 01:57:22 PM
It's happened every single D&D thread in the history of the Forge. The very words act as a stupid-pill.

Raven, the snoozing giant example is obvious, and totally consistent with what I've been saying. In that case, the party does overcome the ogre, by doing something and sneaking past it.

Are you not paying attention? I said, the other two hyenas ended up being just Color. That is not the same as rolling dice and sneaking past the ogre.

And if one more person tries to explain to me that social encounters don't give XP if they don't constitute a chance for failure of some kind, I'm gonna kill'im. Folks, I wrote the Gamism article. I made it clear already that I'm using that logic for social encounters. You don't have to explain Challenge to me.

All of you are falling into the trap of arguing against people who are not here, participating in debates that are not occurring here. You are letting "talk about D&D" as a familiar phenomenon creep into your heads, with all of its little roles and interactions and ever-repeated points.

I appreciate all the attention, but now that the stupid pill has kicked in, it's time for me to close my thread, and look forward to the next session.

Best, Ron