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D&D 3E
A Long Necked Black Dragon 
19th-Jan-2005 07:15 pm
bitch
In my last session, I ran my players up against a young adult black dragon, and I stuck him inside a small cesspool--someone mentioned a dragon that hid underwater and came out only to use its breathe weapon, and I really liked that idea. My players got smart and started using ready actions.

One issue we had though was that I had the dragon lunge out (it has a long neck, it can do that, no?) and bite--thereby pulling half of its body out of the water as well for awhile--and during the bite, I did a critical hit to our little fairy PC, and she had -8 hit points. I ruled that, because the bite was so severe, she was inside the dragon's mouth.

That pissed some people off.

Long story short, our niomus (a winged human race from the Legends and Lairs: Mythic Races) cleric flew up to the mouth and healed the fairy inside the dragon's mouth, the fairy flew out, and everyone lived happily ever after with a few grumbles.

Am I wrong with the fact the dragon could and would have done this? The player is still complaining. As the DM, the ruling I said then goes regardless of complaint, but he keeps thumbing through books and complaining about all these rules. Do any of you think that it might have been a bit of stretch, for future knowledge when running dragons?
Comments 
20th-Jan-2005 03:30 am (UTC)
Your player is a f*cking moron and should be rolling upa new character right now. D&D is not "Happy Happy Fun Filled Sunshine F*cking Joyous Friendship Hour". Character die, they die frequently, and they die in the most horrendous ways possible.

Rule #1: You are the DM. That mean you make the rules. When the PC point to some dumbassed rule while trying to circumvent your encounter, you take the book from him, close it, and open the DM's guide. It should be written somewhere right in the beginning: "The DM has the final say". Promptly tell him to drop the subject or start losing XP, as he's disrupting gameplay.



~Ray
20th-Jan-2005 03:41 am (UTC)
It makes me feel better to hear that. I used to DM 2nd edition a long time ago, but with this new group I have, it seems like they're all rulebound, and from what I remember, part of the game's fun came from the DM doing stuff like having a dragon eat the tiny-sized character below zero hit points when it did a critical hit. I personally thought it made it interesting and didn't think my rule-nazi player was going to throw a fit.
20th-Jan-2005 03:53 am (UTC)
Yea, just excuse my typos though I typed that in a hurry. I'm not that stupid :P

Anyway, welcome to 3rd edition. I also use to DM 2nd edition games, and my word was law. No player questioned during gameplay, because I was hard, but I was also fair. If I did something completely frigin nuts, it made sense to the players. ie; "Yea, you fly back about 15 feet after the giant swipes you with his club". No player argued it, it made perfect (common) sense and spiced up combat. Nobody cared if there was a rule for it or not.

Now.. in the days of 3rd edition, it's nothing but rules lawyering. Hell, even I'm guilty of it sometimes. It's just the mentality of 3rd edition =/

All I know is..when I resume my place on the throne (behind the DM's screen), things are gonna friggin change with my local D&D group ;p



~Ray
20th-Jan-2005 09:14 am (UTC)
Ha ha! Fluffy D&D!

Romper Room. ;)
(Deleted comment)
20th-Jan-2005 03:41 am (UTC)
Don't many (most?) dragons get ... what the hell is that Feat? Snatch? The one that lets them grapple anything they bite automatically? And there's all sorts of rules for getting swallowed whole.

Play a Tiny character, live with the consequences as well as the advantages, s'what I say.
(Deleted comment)
20th-Jan-2005 04:30 am (UTC)
Had a look - Snatch requires you to be Huge size, but when you think about it that's only because they key everything to a Medium size creature. Tiny is two sizes smaller than that, so really you'd think that even a Medium creature could Snatch Tiny and smaller folks ...

... but that's all rules-lawyerly rationale stuff. Speaking as a writer, from a perspective where things happen because a) they serve the plot or b) they're cool (which is a perspective more roleplayers should work from, for my money, not that I have any), dragon bites you, something terrible happens.
20th-Jan-2005 04:11 am (UTC)
...It makes simple common sense. Nice, big dragon. Tiny little faerie. It bites, it gets bitten, dragon chews a bit.

Oh, wait. I forgot. We're talking 3E rules. The game which keeps drawing in people who want to play it like a video game - and we all know how annoying it is when we have things like an Abyss Worm swallow our characters in (insert console RPG of choice here).

If the player continues giving you trouble, ask him if he'd have preferred that you ruled that the faerie lose arms, legs, wings, etc from the teeth severing them. That'd be rather precisely realistic...
20th-Jan-2005 04:23 am (UTC)
Bah. This is a faerie. Losing an arm and a leg against a big, mean, (hungry), vicious Black means that literally for small sized. This is an Adult Dragon people. They can rip limbs off Half-orcs on a critical here. Fae=Half a bite, if that. If they want to Rules-Lawyer. Then fine. DM make new rule: You rule laywer, you pay in XP.
20th-Jan-2005 04:57 am (UTC)
You were way in the right. If the PC wants to play a fairy, faery, faeiry or whatever, they had better get their pixie-ass used to being chomped on by creatures bigger than her. Dragons are hard-core: they fly, spew raw elemental force, but hey now... they can't swallow Tinkerbell in one bite? Please.
20th-Jan-2005 05:28 am (UTC) - Not to ruin the happy parade...
But I think you're all overlooking one thing. In my experience, there are two kinds of rulesy folk. There are the kind who like rules because they can min-max them and be TOUGHAR!!!!!!1111 than everyone. Then there's the kind who craves, more than anything, order and consistency. This type isn't a bad sort at all. In fact, we've all got part of this guy inside us. It's why we use a rules set, rather than free-form.

Your group, as a whole, prefers for you to follow the rules because they're consistent. You, as a DM, making up rules on the fly, they don't know those rules in advance. They don't know what possible consequences you can come up with. That, to them, is chaos. They seek order. A perfectly defined set of rules has defined possibilities, and consequences. They know when a Red Dragon breathes fire, they need to make a saving throw, or they're toast. They might be if they make it, but that's beside the point. If you suddenly decide, since you're the DM, and God of all and everything, He who is not to be questioned, and He who is supreme ruler of all who can tear up your character sheet on a whim...and that Red Dragons have a gaze attack that automatically kills you with no save, that's not very fair. To them, what you're doing is much the same.

Along the same line of thinking, that adult Black Dragon doesn't have snatch because he's lower on hit dice. Perhaps an adult hasn't learned to dispatch foes by swallowing them whole in a single bit yet. Maybe that takes another 1,000 years.

Either way, I think you're all being a tad judgemental. Did you specifically tell them, before the game, or even session in question started that you would change rules as you saw fit? Such a simple statement, and you'd probably have avoided all of this. But you neglected to inform your players that you weren't running the rules as they knew them, and now you're getting mad that they're mad about you arbitrarily - in their mind - overturning things. I'm not trying to criticize you, honestly. I'm just trying to show you what they're feeling. They're feeling like you're railroading them/their characters.
20th-Jan-2005 05:38 am (UTC) - Re: Not to ruin the happy parade...
He didn't *swallow* the fairy. The fairy was in his mouth, not his stomach. And I certainly would not have had that happen with any of the human characters. But think of the size difference.

Look, there's chaos. Then there's illogical thinking to defend your precious character sheet. Logic says six inches versus thirty foot creature, and he gets hit with a natural 20 on a bite attack--how else did he crit the fairy, bite her wing off? Flick here with its tongue? Bad things happen with criticals.

I do, however, appreciate hearing it from the other side of the spectrum. I wasn't mad--if you look at my post, it says that I wanted information on how to handle this scenario better in the future. I wanted to know if I was fair, not gather a parade of people to say, "go you!" Thank you for your opinion, and I'll make a note of it. :-)
20th-Jan-2005 05:54 am (UTC) - Re: Not to ruin the happy parade...
The title was more directed at the people saying YOU'RE THE GM/GOD/SUPREME BEING/LORD ALLAH. But...crits are abstract. They do extra damage. Unless you're adding crit tables all the time, and adding special effects both when the PCs crit monsters, and when monsters crit the PCs, the player probably felt picked on.
20th-Jan-2005 05:59 am (UTC) - Re: Not to ruin the happy parade...
I can see that. Normally, with a '1,' it's always a dropped weapon or fumble, but with a crit, unless a player requests a special description, nothing unusual beyond double damage occurs.

I just thought it added to the grandiose idea of a dragon. A dragon crit would be a big thing. But when you put it that way, yeah, I could see how the player might have felt picked on. Again, thank you for the input.
20th-Jan-2005 07:15 am (UTC) - Re: Not to ruin the happy parade...
I would have to agree. It's not as if an ogre grabbed the fairy out of the air and bit her head off, they were fighting a dragon. I say you're well within your limits if you make a dragon fight a bit tougher, even more surprising than the average fight. Dragons should have attacks and tactics which keep PCs on their toes - after all, half of D&D is dragons.

I think half of it comes from the "open" rules of 3.0 and 3.5 versus AD&D. Now I'm not ragging on 3.5; it's my favorite incarnation thus far. However, what it has done is to standardize everything. Now it seems players have the expectation that DMs follow the exact wording of every rule in every book. I'd chalk up their objection to this new expectation that comes with 3.5. Maybe it seemed different to me, but with my DM AD&D granted a little bit more leeway to the DM to enforce what rule or rules he or she saw fit. I guess the best way to liken it is with AD&D rules seemed to suggest, "Write a story, then use the rules that would best flesh it out," while 3.5 suggests, "Write a story which adheres to the following rules."

While players in the past may have had a surprise or two that they didn't think could happen, they took it in stride assuming that there was some reasoning that would make the story better and the gameplay better for everyone. Now, players get upset when something happens without waiting to see how the "wrinkle" plays into the overall story. Well, that's what I've noticed with my groups anyway.
20th-Jan-2005 03:38 pm (UTC) - Re: Not to ruin the happy parade...
my dm did that with a half-orc actually, and we all thought it worked... i don't see why the character is so upset. it's not like his character even died, he's fine.
i don't know. he sounds more spoiled than simply rules-concerned to me.
20th-Jan-2005 07:03 am (UTC) - Re: Not to ruin the happy parade...
Don't know about you but I thought most players knew that a DM has the power to change rules as seen fit without it necessarily being said. Isn't that stated even in the PHB? Then again maybe that's something more common with the players of area. *shrugs* Just a comment.
20th-Jan-2005 06:03 am (UTC)
You are the DM. You can't anticipate every possibility, that's why you make stuff up as you go along. If people don't like that, there's always diablo. I'd like to think I'd have made the same ruling. It's a mega-hit. There's a big size difference. Fairies and pixies and gnomes get the short end of the stick big time if they get near melee. It's a rule. It's worse than "halflings take it in the ass if they get in melee". Sounds like you need to have a talk with your players about what role-playing games are for you. If they don't agree, one of them can do the work to run the game the way they see fit.
20th-Jan-2005 07:44 am (UTC)
There've been good points made about this on both sides.
I'd say it's your call really, but I can see the players point of view too, but they got out of it -no harm, no foul. If you'd pulled them underwater and drowned them I could see them being more miffed (although once it's happened, it's happened..90% of the time, there can be execptions due to massive cock-up certainly after the session is too damn late to be trying to rewind).

This sort of thing can be useful though too; you can open up a dialogue with your players about the sort of game that you're running etc; but you do need to keep to anything you have decided on too-don't be bullied.

I tend to do a bit more description for a crit(if I remember) and often that will include things that aren't in the rules as such. Although giving a creature a new ability does have the problems "shatter_arcadia" mentioned, and certainly I'd be pissed off if my players suddenly decided they could use a feat they didn't have. If it's just "flavour text" who cares?

I've just waffled a lot to basically say, yeah it was your call to make, and now your players know that that can happen, so theoretically problem solved.

Just out of curiosity, what sort of fairy is it?
20th-Jan-2005 07:58 am (UTC)
We use the fairy race presented in the Mythic Races book, and it's specifically a Seelie. She's a cleric/wizard.
20th-Jan-2005 10:46 am (UTC)
I don't think what you did was too unreasonable, but I know the mindset of the players. I've held many a vicious DM at polearm's reach in my day, but in my case, people just needed to stop DMing before they read the books.
20th-Jan-2005 11:52 am (UTC)
I find the "You're the DM and what you says goes, start docking exp and items if they don't play by your rules!" posts amusing. Why? Because it's a wonder if the people that make those posts have any players in their games at all. First important (yet most overlooked) rule of being a DM is to be neutral. You are neither cheering for the PC's nor the monsters. DM's that punish players by docking experience for speaking their opinions usually end up with less players.

You're the DM, yes... you make judgement calls and are the deciding factor of anything and everything. You had to make such a call because there was no real rule for it and you had to determine the outcome on the fly. There's nothing wrong with your rule, it has several justified points...

1) Huge/Gargantuan creature vs Tiny creature. Look up the swallowing rules for some core monsters like the Giant Toad/Frog or the Purple Worm. Yes, the dragon probably doesn't posses a swallow ability like those monsters but it can gain access to the "snatch" feat (the Draconomicon by WotC has information on this which makes the snatch feat a prerequisite for the "snatch and swallow" feat." this brings us to point #2...

2) The player was reduced to -8 hp on a critical hit. Now if the player was close to full hp before this hit took place or at full hp then your ruling about ending up in the dragon's mouth isn't the end of the world. There was an optional rule in 2nd Edition that stated that if a character or monster suffered more than half it's total hp from a single attack that it must make a saving throw to prevent itself from dying instantly. This of course wouldn't work in 3rd edition because it's broken now but it gives us an idea....

Reflex Save or DC vs. ending up in the dragon's mouth. When making a judgement call like that, giving the player an option to "save" with a single roll is like saying "Hey, let's compromise here." Notice how pretty much any of any monsters special abilities state "Player must make a DC X (where X = number to beat) to avoid such special ability"? Saying "Okay Player, make a DC 20 or 30 even (look at the level of the player and give them some sort of chance) to avoid ending up in the dragon's mouth from that attack. The ferocity of the attack and your small stature vs the huge stature of the dragon makes you a nice dragon munchie there. You can use your reflex or escape artist modifiers, whichever is higher, to save."

That should make the player feel better about the possible outcome of his now dying character.

I tried to stay on topic here, feel free to message me if you have any other questions about this or are confused about some parts. :)
20th-Jan-2005 03:43 pm (UTC)
actually, that half-damage rule is still around, it came up in our game last week. but, there's some qualifier to it, like it has to be at least 50 pts to work or something.
21st-Jan-2005 06:48 am (UTC)
is it an actual rule or an optional rule? I never agreed with it in 2nd edtion... it seems broken to me.
21st-Jan-2005 07:17 am (UTC)
well, it was defnitely in one of the books, so i'm thinking it's an actual rule. but there is a saving throw, although i must admit, we were still pretty pissed about it last week when it almost killed my character's sister.
22nd-Jan-2005 08:55 pm (UTC)
You're thinking of the Death From Massive Damage rules. They're on page 145 of the 3.5 Player's Handbook, and basically state that if you ever take 50+ points of damage from one single attack you must make a DC 15 Fortitude save or die.

Personally, I don't use this rule, but it is "canon."
20th-Jan-2005 04:59 pm (UTC)
The save roll sounds good, however hindsight is always 20/20. ;) Can't really rewind to the moment of the bite and replay it. The problem now is the continual grumbling from her player(s) about 'one' event. Though grumbling for a short time I would see as reasonable, continuous complaining about it is unreasonable unless that sort of thing is a continuous occurance in their games. Yes, I agree that penalizing the players is overdoing it. However, if the DM here actually tries to work something out with the players (like taking up rolling saving throws) and they still grumble, then there's some problems other than just the fairy thing ending up in the dragon's maw. :/
20th-Jan-2005 05:08 pm (UTC)
It sounds like in general you don't have the respect and trust of your players.

However this may have happened, it needs to be established that you are the rule book, and when you make a call you are doing it to make the story in your head work better, not to pursue a personal vendeta or anything.

Off topic, why did the dragon go after the faerie when there were larger more dangerous charcters around?

Did you take it's size modified into account?
20th-Jan-2005 05:34 pm (UTC)
The fairy nailed it with a powerful scroll and then, the previous rounds, was healing people. It had taken out the sorcerer of the group at that point, and the cleric/wizard fairy with the scrolls was next on its agenda.

The warriors/rogues, during the first parts of the battle, were hardly phasing the dragon. I had it go for the PCs actually causing it issues/doing damage.
20th-Jan-2005 05:35 pm (UTC)
Oh, and yeah, the size modifier counted and all that jazz. This issue became apparent because the dragon crit on a natural 20 +19 melee and...well, I was rolling good for the whole round.

I think, in hindsight, it might have partly been a shocker because I roll in secret--so, perhaps the PC thought I was lying about my roll? I was rolling between 3-10 for the most of the battle, then I pulled that out of nowhere. :-/
21st-Jan-2005 06:52 am (UTC)
Player's are going to grumble... good player's move on and accept rules for what they are. It's done and over now, though the saving throw is a suggestion for next time... I've found if you toss a player a small chance to avoid something they'll disagree with, the grumbling isn't so bad no matter what the result... if they continue to grumble and make a big deal about it, maybe the DM needs to start looking for more mature players
20th-Jan-2005 05:29 pm (UTC)
I think you've had the most level headed response, and agree with you totally on all of that. I think that, in the future, I'll allow a Reflex save, to see if the damage comes from being nailed into the wall from force of a tooth hitting him or actually being eaten (since, either way, he ... errr, she, character's female and player's male ... was totally unconscious after that.)

Thank you for your input, it helps. :-)
21st-Jan-2005 06:53 am (UTC)
glad to have helped :)
20th-Jan-2005 01:24 pm (UTC)
If the dragon had had a vorpal bite the fairy would be headless. As it is, seems pretty fair.
20th-Jan-2005 04:47 pm (UTC)
Ha! Your players have it easy.

*pulls up rocker*

In my day zero hit points meant death, none of this stabalisation rubbish! Players of today don't know they're born!

My current GM would have made -8 a limb loss. Hah!

20th-Jan-2005 07:22 pm (UTC)
As far as I'm concerned you did everything right.

#1: If the player is going to play a race of that type (pixie, fairy, whatever) they should expect some consequences for playing such a race.

#2: A pixie is what size? Going against a Dragon of what size? The Dragon needs to eat and would 'snatch' things of similar sizes while hunting. Common sense.

If the player keeps arguing with you have someone kill that players PC.

One thing -not- to do as DM.
Do not make this a "well back in 2nd edition..." type argument. I, as a player who's played both, really hate that argument and it brings down the quality of the game in general.

3.5 is the better system imho. Less rolling, more roleing.
20th-Jan-2005 09:18 pm (UTC)
ok... haven't read through all the comments posted so far, but here's my 2cp

first off, in my own games, I rule anything that
1) has a bite attack and
2) is at least 2 size categories larger

they get the Swallow Whole feat as a bonus even if it is not listed in a monster's description

and we have a..what, Faerie (size Tiny) vs. a young adult Black Dragon (Size much MUCH larger), who scored a crit on a bite? I'd equate that as the fey's dragon appatizer....

now as for the save by the cleric.....IMO, you as the DM, botched.

the fey you ruled was on the wrong side of the dragon's teeth. did the cleric specifically state that he was gonna hold till the dragon opened up again? to get that close to a Dragon's mouth is inviting not only a really ugly AO (think bite or breath weapon, which if you chose option 2, would have resulted in the faerie being killed outright as well) but even further complaints if the dice fall badly. Not to mention the whole fear thing...next round the dragon (if it was me) would have swallowed, or Breathed its weapon which would have destroyed the faerie.

honestly, if it was me, I'd be pulling out a fresh stat sheet for the player and be asking for a new character to be rolled.
21st-Jan-2005 09:59 pm (UTC) - OMG
Anonymous
I would tell you yes.... b/c I have been eaten by a dragon b/f, and i was not under 0hp.
Also your players need to know that there is no reset button, start bringing a paper shreder 2 games... maby it will shit them up.
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