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Author Topic: [D&D 3.0/3.5] Spells and swords - fight!  (Read 20932 times)
Web_Weaver
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« Reply #30 on: May 19, 2006, 09:08:49 AM »


I remembered my friend John Marron talking about his role-playing experiences with people who'd begun their adventure gaming with CRPGs of a particular kind. According to him, they had a kind of "click on it again" approach to play, basically moving around rooms and touching everything over and over to see what it did, or expecting spells to be essentially "hit," "block," or "open." I think the healing-thing is similar too; you just type or click "wait" and recover a few points, and you basically do this as much as you want as long as you're not in a fight.


This, to me, is the most interesting thing in this thread, the impact of computer roleplaying is a real issue now, superficially the mechanics utilised in CRPGs are getting closer and closer to full RPG design, but by their scripted nature they will always be limited. But, playing with a group who actively play these games it is interesting what ideas come up during play.

  • They have suggested Save Games, i.e. having certain points where you could experiment safely with the scene or situation before committing to your actual strategies or actions;
  • Commented on plot hooks being akin to computer games having triggers that kick off parts of the story when the player is ready for them (assuming that unresolved situations will still be there if they walk away and come back later)
  • Waved away simulationist concerns over carrying too much gear by referring to the vast inventories that their computer characters can handle.
  • Have very specific ideas about XP due to unambiguous rules (you may have to confront this one).
  • Not to mention the in-built assumption that the plot is right there ready to be triggered whatever the situation.

I had best stop this list here as it is in danger of becoming a thread in its own right.
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Eric Provost
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« Reply #31 on: May 19, 2006, 12:31:13 PM »

Love you too, Ron.

I went back to your first post and re-read it a couple time.  I don't see those substansive questions that are being passed over.  I see that you made a couple statements about some "dubious" rulings that you made, but they don't look like questions to me.  The only question I see in the whole post is that one where you ask what XP we thought they should be awarded.

I would go ahead and talk about those "dubious" things, but I don't want to get all mired up in answering questions that haven't really been asked.  Or maybe I'm just blind.  You point me at the questions, and I'll try to be helpful.

-Eric
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Larry L.
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aka Miskatonic


« Reply #32 on: May 19, 2006, 02:19:43 PM »

Yowie, I better get a question in before this thread is sucked into the Quagmire (X6) of minutiae.

Ron, I'm curious if you've observed any neat interactions with the father-son relationship in play. Are they playing differently than, say, some random kid and an adult might play? Does pa exhibit any of his own D&D baggage from back when? Does he do anything to mentor or reign in his son's play? Does dad cave to his son's arguments moreso than a soley self-interested party might? That kinda thing.

Also, now that you mention it, the bit about "player must declare skill use" vs. "GM prompts for skill use" is something I know I've puzzled over when running pre-Forge games in the past. Unfortunately, I don't have any insight into this phenomenon other than I think I've always erred on the side of "GM prompts," since that is pretty much required to make illusionist junk like Call of Cthulhu to run.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #33 on: May 19, 2006, 02:39:27 PM »

Well now, let's see.

The big questions I want to address are,

1. Morale: NPCs and monsters giving up, turning tail, pulling their "escape valve" spell out of their butts, or otherwise checking out of a combat situation. I welcome any D&D instance of this sort of thing as actual play topics, in this thread or in their own, either way is fine. My question: when, how, and why have people done this in the past?

So far it's been part of both our fights in this game so far, which as a basic observation makes my nose wrinkle at myself. Am I smelling something I don't like? I think I might be.

2. The GM calling for skills vs. Player calling for skills. Boy, that is a biggie, isn't it? I've been in games where only the first is permitted. You role-play what your guy says and does, and if the GM decides that warrants a Diplomacy check, why then he calls for the roll. And I've been in games where only the second is permitted, and if the player is dumb enough not to call for the Diplomacy check when that's obviously what the character is doing, then the GM is under no obligation to remind him or make the check.

Interesting how totally irrelevant that is to Sorcerer, in which conflict-of-interest dictates a roll no matter what, and who calls for the roll pretty much varies 'round the table - in some cases, it's not even the player in question or the GM.

So, for any D&D play of any kind. which way did you do it? GM calls for skills, player calls for skills, or catch-as-catch-can? And in the latter case, what was the shared "ding ding roll" signal that everyone seemed to abide by?

3. How many XPs to give out for the guards ... oh wait, that's not funny. Actually, Storn, I greatly appreciate your post. Everyone go read Storn's post, it makes sense to me. That doesn't mean I'm entirely certain about what I'm going to do, though. Oh, and related - I do know that it would be really really lame of me to dock them XPs because I forgot about Shield stopping Magic Missiles. What, punish them for my bad/unskillful play? Laaaaame.

Best, Ron
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #34 on: May 19, 2006, 02:58:09 PM »

Dammit, I hit post before I intended.

Larry, I'd have to have at least a few "adult + kid but not related" instances to compare, and that's one of the things I don't have a lot of experience with in role-playing.

To focus just on these two, I can say that Dan really loves the color in the game. After his big ol' Power Strike announcement for Forin's attack, we did a quick check on where everyone was, and I described Forin as "having left a trail of saliva" between his former position and his current one (right up vs. Eladd). He loved it, and always seems to love that sort of thing. I think he has a lot more enjoyment goin' on here than merely mentoring or being there for his kid.

I realized something though. His D&D experience must be reeeeeeally old, because they didn't play with the -10 hit point buffer at all - hit 0, and you die, wham. He was surprised at this "new rule," which in fact first appeared in the 1978-80 set of hardbacks (the first AD&D), unless it showed up in some Dragon magazine or something before that.

I'm not seeing any over-concession or conversely, over-managing of son's play by dad. Their interaction seems to be mainly about playing the game to one another's satisfaction; Dan cracks down on Christopher for losing focus regarding whose turn it is or where his character is, for instance. But we take a few minutes sometimes to talk about Christopher's experience of the game too, and so it's clear that Dan's finding the game very illuminating as a dad. It helps that Christopher has absolutely no inkling of the hyper-kill, adolescent, nose-breathing power fantasy, and likes playing his characters as good guys tryin' to fight for good stuff.

Web-Weaver, I say, make a thread about that! I really want some actual-play dissection of that issue too.

R. Jason, you asked,

Quote
Do you plan on having the negative impression left on the feral girl by the hyena-wounding party member carry over, or is that "debt" cleared by this later bloodletting?  Since the party noticed her it should be a fun, tense meet and greet for them.

They were talking about meeting Raetha next time, and in fact had set up a meeting through Raetha. Like I said, I need to put some thought into prepping her a little better. (It's interesting so far, on a related note, that I like Hathic better through playing him than I did through prepping him. So I need to prep Raetha but also be open to whatever adjustments playing her imposes too.)

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Anyhow, this session and post were more about the battle.  I know you mentioned looking things up bogged you down a bit, but otherwise how did the pace of the fight go in terms of real time?  Was the play pretty straightfoward in terms of decisionmaking and executing mechanics or did the players want to add a lot of color to their fighting?

It was straightforward and very sensible in terms of all of us knowing what was going on and announcing what they wanted to do. I even took notes about what each person did on his or her turn in each round, but every time I post to this thread, the notes are in some other damn room or underneath something.

Which reminds me, I'm OK with the timing of the spells. Eladd absolutely did plan on provoking the fight although he wanted it to "prove" the party's guilt. So yes, he cast the spells right when the party got to the gates.

Best, Ron
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ffilz
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« Reply #35 on: May 19, 2006, 03:03:26 PM »

Ron, thanks for re-stating the questions.

On the morale issue: In my previous D&D play (and I'll include Monte Cook's Arcana Unearthed/Evolved as D&D), I've very rarely used morale, and if I have, it's been entirely GM fiat (gee, these guys are sucking it on the chin, they can't possibly win, so they run away - or try to). In one sense, if the game is kill and take treasure, and not a lot of social interraction, then it makes sense for the NPCs to fight to the death.

I both call for skill rolls, and let the players ask for skill rolls. I'm sure I've been inconsistent about requiring the players to be smart enough to call for rolls, and asking for them when it seems like they should have a chance of noticing something. I attribute a lot of this problem to really fuzzy skill mechanics, and it relates to "mother may I" play.

On XP for the guards - I'm not sure what I'd do in that situation. I'd be inclined to give some XP for the good idea, on the other hand, the guards weren't intended as an obstacle for the PCs to overcome, and the players already benefited from the subsequent encounter being easier that you had expected, so it was easier to get the XP award in that encounter. This brings up one thing I've noticed, what XP do the PCs get if they give a good fight, but fail to prevail? The rules say nothing about that. I'm not convinced they should get no XP (or at least only get XP for the sub-set of opposition they actually defeated, say they defeated 2 trolls, but the 3rd troll ran them off), but I can see a reasonable argument for that.

Frank
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Frank Filz
Ricky Donato
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« Reply #36 on: May 19, 2006, 03:21:40 PM »

1. Morale: NPCs and monsters giving up, turning tail, pulling their "escape valve" spell out of their butts, or otherwise checking out of a combat situation. I welcome any D&D instance of this sort of thing as actual play topics, in this thread or in their own, either way is fine. My question: when, how, and why have people done this in the past?

So far it's been part of both our fights in this game so far, which as a basic observation makes my nose wrinkle at myself. Am I smelling something I don't like? I think I might be.

Hi, Ron,

I know that the morale check is not in the D&D 3rd ed. rules. From a gamist point-of-view, I see an NPC fleeing as a strategic decision by the DM: do I risk this NPC's life to challenge the players some more, or shoud I cut my losses now and get him out of here while he can? This is interesting, because if the bad guy gets away, it tends to imply to the players, "Ha ha, you didn't really win. He'll heal up and he might come back to challenge you again in a few days or a few years."

Some actual play:

I was DMing a 3.0 D&D game a few years ago, and the characters in their first adventure defeated a gnomish wizard named Evart. Evart escaped them, and Phil, one of the players, became obsessed with finding him again. As he put it, "I have to find him because he's going to come back and haunt us otherwise." This eventually became a running gag, but Phil's subtext was clear - the characters didn't completely win against Evart, and Phil was worried that Evart would challenge them again.

Quote
2. The GM calling for skills vs. Player calling for skills. Boy, that is a biggie, isn't it? I've been in games where only the first is permitted. You role-play what your guy says and does, and if the GM decides that warrants a Diplomacy check, why then he calls for the roll. And I've been in games where only the second is permitted, and if the player is dumb enough not to call for the Diplomacy check when that's obviously what the character is doing, then the GM is under no obligation to remind him or make the check.

Interesting how totally irrelevant that is to Sorcerer, in which conflict-of-interest dictates a roll no matter what, and who calls for the roll pretty much varies 'round the table - in some cases, it's not even the player in question or the GM.

I haven't read Sorcerer, but let me throw out a possibility: the D&D text does not give clear indications as to when these rolls should be made, so it is not . By contrast, rolls in D&D combat are very clear cut and "who calls for the roll" as you put it is irrelevant - because the roll is demanded by the system, and does not rely on anyone's subjective judgment.
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Ricky Donato

My first game in development, now writing first draft: Machiavelli
greyorm
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« Reply #37 on: May 19, 2006, 03:25:55 PM »

1. Morale: NPCs and monsters giving up, turning tail, pulling their "escape valve" spell out of their butts, or otherwise checking out of a combat situation. I welcome any D&D instance of this sort of thing as actual play topics, in this thread or in their own, either way is fine. My question: when, how, and why have people done this in the past?

I honestly haven't. I have never utilized morale in play of any version of D&D, mainly because every instance of it I have ever seen in D&D-type rules looked clunky and tacked on (I can't say 'felt' because I never used it). I almost always have played fights right to the death -- blood, blood and death! -- unless the NPC was one I needed for another scene, or didn't want to see die for some other (perhaps sentimental) reason. And in that case I just fudged it and went the surrender-or-escape-by-GM-fiat route. Usually the latter because the players would have no possibly say in the outcome, then. That was awful -- manipulative and unsportsmanlike -- of me to do, but I did it.

Quote
2...So, for any D&D play of any kind. which way did you do it? GM calls for skills, player calls for skills, or catch-as-catch-can? And in the latter case, what was the shared "ding ding roll" signal that everyone seemed to abide by?

In the last years I was playing 3E, I tried to get my group to start making skill roll calls, as well as feeding them rolls. We all came from a very strong background of "GM tells you when to roll, now roll like good little robots", so the idea of asking for skill rolls for some things never caught on as strongly as it could have, though it did improve. Notably, all sorts of dungeoneering-type rolls would be called for regularly (Search, Spot, Listen, Track, etc.), but the Social-type and other rolls were almost completely and utterly ignored unless I asked for one (even when they were floundering "role-playing"-wise and could have used to social roll to gain a mechanical advantage).

Tangentially, I have to wonder if that is because those sorts of rolls are built into previous versions of D&D as non-skills: searching for hidden doors and traps, etc. are part of your character's basic interactive portfolio, they're firmly on the side of "my resources", whereas diplomacy and other social things such are tied very strongly to traditionally GM-fiat portions of play ("Does [the GM feel like having] the old hermit give us the clue?")

So, I tried my best to coach them when I thought a roll might be appropriate, or I thought there was something/multiple things they could try out, but I was having enough problems worrying about running the game that I was only rarely a good coach, thus I blew numerous chances to suggest using Diplomacy or Intimidate rolls. I kick myself.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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R. Jason Boss
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« Reply #38 on: May 19, 2006, 03:29:26 PM »

1. Morale: NPCs and monsters giving up, turning tail, pulling their "escape valve" spell out of their butts, or otherwise checking out of a combat situation. I welcome any D&D instance of this sort of thing as actual play topics, in this thread or in their own, either way is fine. My question: when, how, and why have people done this in the past?

Hmm.  In my last game I had a situation where the players were fighting some goblin guards.  One stayed and lobbed javelins and the other went to warn their second line of defense.  The players took out the fodder guard and rushed after the second but not in time.  The second goblin joined the next line of defense, which made the ensuing fight 5 or 6 goblins vs. 2 PCs.  I had decided that one goblin would stay near the exit to run and warn the goblin "town" of the attack if they lost their 2:1 advantage.  One of the PCs made it into their defenses with some impressive Jump/Tumble moves and as a result cut that goblin down with an attack of opportunity when it tried to escape (in retrospect I should have had the goblin open the door in the previous round, but I was satisfied in interpreting the PCs actions as catching the goblins very off-guard, one human and one elf tearing through them so quickly).

What I'm considering trying out next game is using something like Intimidation vs. Sense Motive, with situational modifiers based on how the NPCs/monsters view their position and the threat level of the PCs (as demonstrated by their actions as well as intangibles, hence Sense Motive - Are these hardened warriors after all?).  I might have to fiddle with the numbers a bit for modifiers to make it work out right but it seems a pretty reasonable option.  In the above example, the goblin that was tasked with carrying the alarm message would have had a chance to make a check or two and possibly decide the party was badass enough to merit his hightailing it before my conditions were met.

They were talking about meeting Raetha next time, and in fact had set up a meeting through Raetha. Like I said, I need to put some thought into prepping her a little better. (It's interesting so far, on a related note, that I like Hathic better through playing him than I did through prepping him. So I need to prep Raetha but also be open to whatever adjustments playing her imposes too.)

Sounds good.  I asked because you expressed dislike for the "NPC Attitudes" charts and all that in favor of opposed rolls, which I dig.  Normally I'd do something like knock her default attitude down a peg if she was pissed about the hyena backstabbing, but I guess in a pinch a situational penalty to Diplomacy would have the same result.

Thanks!
Jason
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buzz
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« Reply #39 on: May 19, 2006, 04:11:18 PM »

2. The GM calling for skills vs. Player calling for skills.
Our games are most definitely a mix. More often than not, the DM will call for rolls as a result of actions described by the player (e.g., "Hmm... okay, you'll need to make an Open Locks check to do that"), or as a consequence of terrain (e.g., Balance), or the ever-present preamble to an encounter (e.g., "Everybody make a Spot check"). There are times when a player will call for a check, e.g., "Can I make an active Spot to see what he's doing?" It probably happens the most in combat when the PC is performing maneuvers that have stated DCs, such as Tumbling to avoid AoO or making a Concentration check to cast defensively. There's no asking involved then; the player just does it as part of their move.

I think it often depends on knowledge of the DC involved. That info is typically the DM's domain, so they're the ones calling for checks.

To touch on the time-spent-looking-stuff-up: make notes. Arranging the character sheet in such a way that various bonuses are pre-calculated (e.g., Rage) and page references are marked near relevant bits (spells especially) is very helpful. Also, like any game, the more you play, the less you have to look things up. I see character-sheet-confusion as one of the biggest hurdles the casual gamers in our group face.

The rules-fu people in my groups rarely crack the book for anything other than spells. 'Course, we've been playing 3.0/3.5 consistently since 2002 or so.
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A.k.a., Mark Delsing
Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #40 on: May 19, 2006, 05:28:17 PM »

Just gotta say, I've been following these threads and enjoying them immensely. It sounds like a damn fun game of D&D.

My D&D experience is fairly limited, but I've always found the GM-call vs. Player-call for skill checks extremely muddled. In my case there's a heaping helping of poorly (or simply un-) negotiated Social Contract, but whatever the cause, I alswys feel like I'm on shaky ground as a player in calling for my own checks, and at the same time see little initiative on the part of the DM to call for them. Even if we're talking about my own pro-active, creative (hopefully) idea or solution to problem, I always seem to get, following describing the plan, a simple "Oh, OK" rather than, OK, roll Bluff!" It's more like: ME: "blah blah, clever plan. GM: "OK." Beat. Me: "OK, so should I roll bluff, or diplomacy?" GM: "Sure." It always seems to carry an element of mild surprise, and at the very least a curious indifference: "Oh, you wanted to use a skill roll to accomplish that? Hm." And if it's a more passive situation, like reacting to a situation with Spot or Sense Motive or the like, the effect is more pronounced, though still subtle. "Can I roll Spot to see if anyone's out there?" "Oh, OK." (unstated attitude: "I guess, if you really think it'll do any good.")

I find this terribly demoralizing. It makes me feel like the GM is humoring me, and I suspect that my character's actions (and my choices) aren't really having an effect. Any sccess is suspect--if rolling my skill is such an afterthought, isn't it probable that the GM already had the result in mind. And of course any failure only increases the fatalistic feeling in your gut.

(In case it's still unclear, I should make the official disclaimer that this is all my subjective impression, not a stated position on the part of the DMs in question.)

I can think of a few possible explanations for the phenomenon. One is the tendency to view such skill-based endeavors as a kind of end-run around the TRUE challenge--the fight. In other words, cheating. Not necessarily dysfunctional cheating (you can, for instance, play poker with the understanding that cheating well--ie not getting caught--is part of the game), but nonetheless something to be blocked. "Nope, you can't bluff your way around this one," "Ha, tiptoe all you want, you're gonna have to fight him to pass," etc etc.

Another possibility: an Ouija-board situation where actually trying to call on a mechanical advantage, direct and unabashed, is considered crass and poor form. So of course nobody wants to say "hey, can I roll Intimidate here?" they just want to describe their character's action and let the GM figure out what the descriptive input means vis a vis mechanical output.Come to think of it, I'm not sure if anyone else in my group does subscribe to this style of play, which could explain why I keep finding my input marginalized; the Gm's waiting for my skill call, and I'm waiting for his. (And even in my case I think it's more an ingrained habit than an actual play preference.)

A final possibility; I just need to speak up and assert my right to use my player's resources. This is kind of related to the above reason, but somewhat independent, I think. The base problem is that I'm not getting full and robust use of my characters' means of game effectiveness, so regardless of the factors that led to that, I at least need to do everything in MY power to maximize that effectiveness before I can determine where else the problem might lie and correct it there as well.

I hope this post wasn't too self-analytical, by which I mean I hope it is broadly insightful or useful regarding the issue as raised in the thread. In any case, it's started to untangle some issues for me.

Peace,
-Joel

PS Ron, I'm looking forward to your commentary on D&D Alignment.
 
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Story by the Throat! Relentlessly pursuing story in roleplaying, art and life.
Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #41 on: May 19, 2006, 05:42:35 PM »

On the "morale" issue, I recall the "red box" "Basic D&D" set actually had specific morale rules (roll when half the enemy is wiped out, or something) and an actual "morale rating" (roll vs 2d6, I think) for every single monster. Never played that edition, though.

More interestingly (to me), to get back to the real people stuff:

Dan really loves the color in the game. After his big ol' Power Strike announcement for Forin's attack, we did a quick check on where everyone was, and I described Forin as "having left a trail of saliva" between his former position and his current one (right up vs. Eladd). He loved it.... Christopher has absolutely no inkling of the hyper-kill, adolescent, nose-breathing power fantasy, and likes playing his characters as good guys tryin' to fight for good stuff.

Ron, as a dad myself (of a two-year-old, admittedly), I suspect what you've got going on here is an activity that gives the adult permission to do "kid stuff" ("getting his orc on" and all that) and the kid permission to try on adult stuff (e.g. taking strong positions of moral authority) without either feeling awkward or embarassed about it. Which is fantastic.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #42 on: May 19, 2006, 11:09:19 PM »

1. Morale: NPCs and monsters giving up, turning tail, pulling their "escape valve" spell out of their butts, or otherwise checking out of a combat situation. I welcome any D&D instance of this sort of thing as actual play topics, in this thread or in their own, either way is fine. My question: when, how, and why have people done this in the past?
In a game once the palladin and rogue met up against something quite tough in a cave. I can't remember what, might have been an ettin.

Anyway, it comes down to it the rogue is in the negs and out of it. It's the ettins turn and both sides can see each other are battered. If it strikes, it may win. But if it strikes and misses, it'll most likely die due to the palladins attack.

When it came down to it, I hadn't really invested myself in cutting down players. I was pretty invested in players screwing up enough times that they killed themselves. But now was the crunch time...I could play the monster to the 'fights to the death' or it could show that it wanted to hold back and simply run away.

I just wasn't invested in the story ending because, basically, I had decided to play to the hilt. That's not that interesting an ending you know...that choice from me as a player is fairly basic and uninteresting. If I had limited resources like a player, like that ettin was my PC, it would be much more interesting.

And lets face it, I just found my yet to be revealed 'astounding' plot revelations more interesting as well. Why would I play to the hilt and kill off the chance to show those?

Well, that's what I'm prising out of my memory as to why I indicated to the players that it wanted to hold off, shuffle around them and run off down the cave. At the time I didn't have any clear cut thoughts on the matter, just a bunch of feelings. But I knew it had come down to me. At this latter date, looking back, I think it just wasn't that interesting when it came down to my descision (as GM I just don't have as much on the line as players do).

On an amusing side note, the palladins player acted as if he was going to go with it, then he declared he was attacking, basically breaking the deal. The rogues player went nah, in a way that indicated some negative social feedback for that sort of deal break. The palladin lets him go, but then one of them remembers an NPC they had under their thumb that they left at the cave mouth "Oh, he could get him, yeah!". He was low level but the ettin only had 3 HP left, so rather than looking up the NPC's stats I just gave him a 50% chance. He passed and the players cheered! Funny and cunning!

BTW, the ettin indicating it giving up and shuffling/running off involved no rolls. I wasn't willing to gamble on whether he did this, in this particular account.

Quote
2. The GM calling for skills vs. Player calling for skills. Boy, that is a biggie, isn't it?
It is!! What's specifically would you like to ask about it?
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Philosopher Gamer
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cdr
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« Reply #43 on: May 20, 2006, 12:33:42 AM »

D&D3.0/3.5 core books have no morale rules other than GM fiat, although the D&D Miniatures Handbook has something that could be bolted on.  I've seen Will save used, since that's what's used for fear checks, but that has the odd effect of making wizards and sorcerers stand their ground as fighters and barbarians flee.  A Fort save would be odd rules-wise, but would advantage Fighters. Clerics win either way.

Often the difference in a tough fight between complete PC victory and Total Party Kill is just a turn or two, so the decision on whether to run RIGHT NOW or stay for ONE more turn and get the killing blow in can be very high pressure.  We saw a lot of this in the 3.x campaign I ran for 3 years, 60 sessions, 1st to 13th level (ending shortly before I discovered the Forge in February last year).  Especially at higher levels, the tactical instability caused by the huge advantage to the prepared attacker and the difficulty of defense meant it was very desirable to not let anyone get away, which led to scorched earth resource denial tactics.

Something I've heard of in lots of games is "tar baby syndrome" where one PC goes down and the others won't retreat without their fallen friend so everyone winds up dead.  If I were to ever run D&D again I'd have capture and ransom a standard part of the culture so that surrender wouldn't be so unthinkable.

If you did use Morale rules for the NPCs, would you use them for the PCs too? Or  would they left to player fiat?

I'd hate to deny to players the right to make their own call on whether to save their own lives or hang in there and risk death, or risk drinking a healing potion (which draws an attack of opportunity).  I think the challenge ratings as presented are assuming fights to the death, based on my experience.  If the villains run away when they reach 20% of hit points (or whatever criteria, like being one more average attack from dying) then they're not as tough, but that does seem more realistic.

We didn't use morale rules, but when I ran Heart of Nightfang Spire which has a lot of undead fear effects,  the tactical placement of the party's two Paladins (Rogue3/Paladin8 PC and her Paladin9 cohort) to provide coverage for their bonus vs. fear to nearby comrades played a significant part in planning.

2. The GM calling for skills vs. Player calling for skills. Boy, that is a biggie, isn't it?

Yes it is! Always requiring player to call for skill checks can be agonizingly tedious in a dungeon crawl with traps as they ask to check for traps every 10'.  3.x lets you "Take 10" to assume you rolled a 10 if you take an action for the skill, or you can take 20x as long to "Take 20" and assume you got a 20, but only for skills where nothing bad happens if you fail the roll.  So you can Take 20 searching a room (2 minutes per 10' square!), but typically not for Diplomacy or climbing or disabling traps.  Take 10 is very handy for climbing since otherwise the odds of climbing anything tall are vanishingly small unless you're very skilled or its very easy.

We played that the player can always use a skill, and doesn't have to ask the GM for permission, any more than they would in order to cast a spell or swing a sword.  "Use a skill" is an action a PC can take. But the GM can also ask the player to use a skill anytime (most commonly Spot or Listen).  We used Diplomacy a great deal since the Rogue3/Paladin was maxed out on Diplomacy and more of a talker than a fighter. We found Sense Motive and Intimidate mostly broken, and didn't use them much.  In particular, we quickly clarified that Sense Motive was NOT "Detect Lie."

As GM I also let players enter standing orders, like "The halfing rogue will always check for traps before opening the door" and the players would mention explicitly when they weren't doing that (usually for time pressure reasons, especially in the Spire where they were under a brutally short clock to get in and out each trip before their protective wards wore off). For search and traps I'd roll the die behind the GM screen (and abide by the results), everything else they rolled themselves.
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greyorm
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My name is Raven.


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« Reply #44 on: May 20, 2006, 10:39:59 AM »

It is!! What's specifically would you like to ask about it?

Psst...before Ron blows up and beats you with a large trout for failing to read his whole post before responding, here's a specific quote from it: "So, for any D&D play of any kind. which way did you do it? GM calls for skills, player calls for skills, or catch-as-catch-can? And in the latter case, what was the shared 'ding ding roll' signal that everyone seemed to abide by?"

You may kick yourself now.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
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